The first day of school can be a major milestone for both parents and kids. So when 5-year-old Carmine Mattaline was set to start Kindergarten this week, there was just one thing missing — his dad. Carmine’s father, Police Sergeant Andy Mattaline, was recently diagnosed with cancer and has been hospitalized after surgery for several weeks. Still in recovery, Andy had only been able to see his son once since July 30th.
Carmine has autism, so his mom Mary says she has spent many a sleepless night wondering what his first day of school would be like. Not having her husband there to share the experience was never what she had imagined.
So with no other choice, Andy was set to watch his son walk to school via video. Doctors, however, had been working on a secret plan to ensure the recovering dad could be there in the flesh. When they broke the news that he’d be joining Carmine in person, the tough-as-nails dad broke down in tears. “This is one of my biggest days and I just didn’t want to miss this,” Andy told local CBS affiliate KMOV4. “He means the world to me. We’ve been through a lot together.”
As Andy arrived on the scene, he was greeted by yet another surprise. Dozens of his fellow West County, Missouri officers were there in uniform to ensure Carmine wouldn’t need to walk alone. Andy, still emotional from the experience, was shocked by the outpouring of support. “It’s an overwhelming amount support that I just can’t process right now.”
Side by side with his brothers in blue, Andy escorted Carmine all the way to the school, both moved by the moment and excited for his son’s future. Though he still has a bit more time left in recovery, the proud father says he’s now looking forward to returning home for good.
“I just can’t wait to release him into the world,” Andy said. “To his first step to transition into becoming something we all want to see him flourish into.”