A whole lot of wonderful people came out to help 9-year-old George Rios Ruiz’s biggest wish come true earlier this year. George is hard-set on becoming a handler for military working dogs in the United States Army. Sadly, he’s also battling terminal cancer.
Marines, Air Force ROTC members, the Los Angeles County Police Department, the Fire Department (along with four firetrucks), fifty cadets from the local high school, Junior Foundation Charities, and the For Veterans Sake Foundation teamed up to make it a reality.
In early December, the Junior Foundation documented George’s induction as an honorary soldier and dog handler. His family and members of the U.S. Military watched as he received his Certificate of Enlistment from recruiter SFC Armando Delgadillo. He even got an official Army uniform, gloves, and cap for the occasion.
But the ceremonies didn’t stop there. For Veterans Sake, which provides specially-trained service dogs for veterans with PTSD, assigned George and service dog Katie to an important mission. They gathered at the local PetSmart, where Marines and Air Force members were present for George’s first official investigation.
A “suspicious” item hid somewhere in the store, and George and Katie were the only ones able to recover it. When they successfully tracked the package, everyone was relieved that they’d saved the day.
President of For Veterans Sake Monty Hutson tells KTLA 5:
He’s fighting his own battle, so what he’s doing, he’s giving us hope and a lot of the veterans that we work with, when they see a little man like this, that only wants to be a veteran himself, it’s gonna give ‘em a light, and something for them to strive for.
Afterward, California Representative Steve Knight presented George with an American flag and certificate of recognition for his work. “[George] went through the obstacle course with Katie, he passed with flying colors,” says Hutson, “and he’s now a part of For Veterans Sake Foundation—a dog handler, and an army dog handler at that!”
To conclude a huge day of accomplishments, George hopped on a fire truck with his family for lunch and a ceremony at a local restaurant.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department stated in a press release:
It was a great way to make a little boy smile and to see how our amazing community pulls together when someone needs our help.
Congratulations on a job well done, George!