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Cancer patient celebrates 7th birthday with Nevada Highway Patrol

The sirens came blaring down the road early Friday, a swirl of blue and red lights approaching the Nevada Highway Patrol’s Southern Command.

Seconds later, an army of patrol vehicles came to a halt.

“Abigail 758 has arrived,” said a tiny voice emerging from a patrol car’s loud speaker.

A car door swung open, and out came Abigail Rose Arias, a curly-haired girl wearing a police uniform and badge No. 758.

The honorary officer from the Freeport Police Department in Texas, who’s been battling terminal Wilms tumor cancer for the last two years, had just touched down in Las Vegas, where she will spend the weekend celebrating her 7th birthday with her family and Freeport police Chief Ray Garivey.

Wilms tumor is a type of childhood cancer that starts in the kidneys, according to the American Cancer Society.

The Highway Patrol, in partnership with Las Vegas-based charities When U Dream a Dream and Lemons for Love, was hosting part one of the weekend-long celebrations — a birthday party.

Inside, she was greeted by her favorite Marvel characters, including Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Captain America and Black Panther.

Giving Abigail a high-five, Spidey said, “Stay amazing. You’re my favorite hero.”

Abigail let out a soft giggle and looked down at her feet. It was time to open presents.

She unwrapped dozens of gifts, including coloring books, sidewalk chalk, a softball and a specialized Highway Patrol license plate with her name.

The plate was made Thursday morning in Carson City, according to spokesman Travis Smaka. When it was ready, a Southern Nevada trooper hurried up north late Thursday to pick up the special gift, returning to Las Vegas just hours before Abigail had arrived.

“It was a scramble,” Smaka said. “But we wanted to give her something very personal and one of a kind.”

But what led Abigail, who has dreamed her entire life of becoming a police officer, and her family to Las Vegas this weekend was a special ceremony that took place last year in Freeport.

Abigail’s father, Ruben, announced on social media late last year that they were stopping chemotherapy. It wasn’t working.

After coming across that post, Garivey, the Freeport police chief, reached out to the family, soon learning from Abigail herself that she hoped to be in his shoes one day.

Within weeks of meeting Abigail and her family, Garivey recalled Friday, he was swearing Abigail in as an honorary officer of his force. The ceremony was captured on video, which since has gone viral, eventually reaching the Nevada Highway Patrol.

“We’re honored and humbled to be a part of her birthday and hopefully make the day memorable for her,” Smaka said. “Once we saw that video, we couldn’t say no.”

After opening her presents, Abigail insisted on saying a few words to a room full of misty-eyed people. Her mom and dad, both wiping their tears, watched as their daughter stood up to speak.

“Thank you everybody for coming,” she said softly. “You guys help me fight the bad guys.”

Later, Garivey explained that Abigail refers to cancer as the “bad guy.”

“She looks up to me, to all police, because we fight the bad guys,” Garivey said. “But inside, she’s fighting bad guys. And that’s the strongest fight I’ve ever seen.”

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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