When Officer Brandon Sheffert pulled over a skinny teenager running along a busy road he had no idea what he was in for.
Sheffert and his partner wondered what the teen was up to, but he explained that he was just trying to train for an upcoming wrestling match. The cops talked with the young man, Anthony Schultz, about his life for another 15 minutes or so.
At the end of the conversation, Officer Sheffert asked the teen what he wanted to do when he graduated - it turned out to be a fateful question.
"Before that," Anthony says, "no one really asked me what I wanted to do when I get older. I felt as if he cared instantly."
Schultz said goodbye, but less than 2 months later Officer Sheffert came into his life again. The police were responding to a domestic disturbance call, and found 8 people living crammed into a 1 bedroom apartment. Schultz was one of them.
“Where do I know you from?” Sheffert asked, and his heart sank when he was reminded about their talk. "There was a lot of alcohol and other stuff going on with the family," and he worried about the teen. That's why he promised to come back soon and check up on him.
It's a good thing he did.
Learn what happened to Schultz on the next page!
Sheffert stopped by to spend an hour or two with Schultz every so often, talking to him about his life and his hopes for the future.
The attention meant everything to the teenager. “It was the best thing in the world," he says, "I knew someone cared about me." Through tough times, like when Schultz's mom kicked him out of the apartment, Sheffert was there to look after him.
Schultz only met his father once, and he was never a part of the boy's life, so Sheffert became something like a replacement parent. "I don't think he had a solid male role model, ever," Sheffert says. He taught the teen how to drive and helped him get a job, then did something even better.
The Sheffert family (Officer Sheffert, his wife and their 2 children) have welcomed Schultz into the family with open arms, in a kind of unofficial adoption. Now, years later, they're as close as real family.
"It's kind of odd when he's not around, and even our kids, and everybody," Sheffer says about Schultz, "I can't imagine my life without him around. I don't think anybody else can, either."
Schultz has graduated from high school - something that wasn't always a given for the teenager - and he plans to join the military this summer. It just shows how much you can accomplish with a helping hand.
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