A boy in Ireland is recovering from chemotherapy treatments to battle leukemia and is now fighting bad driving, participating in roadside checks with the Republic of Ireland’s police force, also known as the gardaí.
On March 26, 2018, five-year-old Ceejay McArdle took to the streets around the town of Curragh and Kilcullen in County Kildare to ensure drivers were being safe on the roads.
In full police gear, McArdle is seen on video speaking with drivers and asking to see their drivers’ licence or permit, while walking around the vehicle to ensure the “insurance disc and road tax disc” are displayed — a legal requirement in Ireland. He radios with an overhead helicopter for help in locating a vehicle and even performs a breathalyzer test on a firefighter.
“Alright, how did I do,” the firefighter asks him as McArdle examines the device, before giving him a thumbs up.
Throughout the video, the five-year-old shows his excitement for what he’s doing, jumping up and down from time to time and smiling at the camera.
It’s only one of many experiences he’s had with the gardaí, but one his mother Susan Brown says was special.
“It was particularly special for us as we didn’t know when (chemotherapy) treatment ended if he’d ever be offered the opportunity to be a Garda again,” she said in an interview with Global News. “Thus this checkpoint was very significant for us.”
The five-year-old was diagnosed with acute lymboblastic leukemia in Sept. 2014, when he was two years old, after spiking a temperature for three weeks. Brown said he was admitted to hospital and stayed overnight with the child, who was anemic, doctors said. The next day more blood tests were done along with an ultrasound as glandular fever was suspected.
On their third hospital day, McArdle received his diagnosis, and would be immediately transferred to Ireland’s main pediatric oncology hospital.
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It was only a few months after McArdle began his chemotherapy treatments, when a local Garda knocked on their door for a routine visit, that his journey with the gardaí began.
“When he saw Ceejay’s excitement, he told us he would call back the next day with a patrol car and take Ceejay for a visit to the local station,” Brown said.
The officer did so. After photos of Ceejay were posted to Facebook, a Garda based in Dublin invited the family to visit, where he was awarded a bravery medal and played alongside the Garda band.
Brown said more messages began pouring in from gardaí around Ireland, and she set up a Facebook page due to the high volume. Even a police officer in Texas saw the Facebook page and put out a call for officers to send messages of support.
Ever since he got out of the hospital, Ceejay has been involved in many gardaí activities, including stopping a speeding car during a road check at the age of three, riding in a police helicopter, and meeting the president of Ireland.
All of this involvement culminated in Ceejay being able to graduate with the 2016 class at Garda college.
“Graduating has been easily his favourite experience as a Garda,” Brown said. “He was beside himself with excitement, especially as there were literally hundreds of gardaí — or ‘my colleagues,’ as Ceejay calls them.”
Even after graduation, Ceejay has still been receiving surprises. He was brought to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York in March 2017 to march with the Emerald society, the NYPD and gardaí. He received multiple police medals, pins and other merchandise from around the world, and had a uniform sent to him by the London Metropolitan Police. Ceejay also received a medal from England’s prime minister.
Asked if he plans to still be a gardaí when he grows up, Brown said he already believes he is one.
“Ceejay loves doing road checks or anything he perceives as being real duty,” she said. “When Ceejay is in uniform, he isn’t dressing up or pretending to be a Garda. In his head he is a Garda, which is what he tells anyone who asks if he will be a Garda when he grows up.”
Ceejay is now in remission, Brown told Global News, and is currently in school full time. He has joined his local football team and started swimming as well.