Alton boy battling cancer takes police oath

Edinburg police chief, Cesar Torres talks with Brandon Tadeo Alvarez, 9, before being sworn in as an honorary Alton Police Department captain during a ceremony at Alton City Hall on Friday, May 3, 2019, in Alton. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

ALTON — Arms were extended in prayer from all angles of the Alton City Hall Friday night.

While the mayor, Salvador Vela, led the room in a prayer that spoke of hope and unity, the arms of police departments from across the Valley were directed at 9-year-old Brandon Tadeo Alvarez, who is currently battling liver cancer.

Police officers from across the county, including Weslaco PD, McAllen PD and Edinburg PD, stood along the walls of the room, allowing the family and friends of Brandon to sit and witness him being sworn in as the newest Alton Police Department honorary captain.

Standing on a step stand, Brandon, whose lifelong dream has been to be a police officer, raised his right hand as state District Judge Keno Vasquez led the ceremony. As part of the induction, Vasquez asked Brandon if he swore to “preserve, protect and defend the laws of the United States.”

Brandon followed the statement with a confident “I do.”

In the crowd were members of Brandon’s baseball team, the Tejanos, and staff from Cavazos Elementary School. All the seats were filled in the city hall, and across the room, teary eyes were spotted everywhere.

Brandon was first diagnosed with liver cancer last March, and was declared cancer-free in September. However, a tumor on his liver was spotted on Jan. 31, and others have been found on his arm, making him not eligible for a transplant.

Since then, Brandon’s mother, Tanya Alvarez, said that they have been staying strong, and more importantly, keeping Brandon’s faith strong.

“We tell him to keep fighting and keep being positive,” Tanya said. “We have so many people with us who are helping us with this fight. With all the prayers and everything, we tell him that everything will be OK.”

On the podium, after the invocation and motivational words from the Alton PD and local representatives, Tanya asked everyone in the room to continue keeping her son in their prayers.

“Brandon is going to be that miracle,” she told the room through tears. “We are going to talk about it in the future and say he made the impossible, possible.”

After Tanya stepped down from the platform, Brandon’s younger sister wanted to express her sentiments too. In the arms of Alton Police Chief Jonathan Flores she whispered into the microphone, “thank you for making him happy.”

Flores delivered the welcoming part of the night, introducing the Alvarez family to their newest family members, the Alton PD.

After learning about Brandon’s battle and his hope of becoming a police officer, Flores, along with his assistant chief, Mark Perez, and three other patrolmen visited Brandon at his home last week. The five policemen took Brandon on a ride-along, allowing him to play with the lights and sirens of the car.

Besides allowing Brandon to play with their equipment and just feel like a cop, Flores said that he wanted to do more for Brandon and make that dream true.

“When you are in this law enforcement family, nobody fights alone,” said Flores, who has been the chief of police for the past year. “Brandon and his family are facing tough challenges right now, so we are bringing them into our family so that they know that we are going to support them every step of the way.”

As an honorary captain now, Brandon is the third-in-command of Alton PD.

“I hope that doing this for him gives him some of the best memories he has, and that today is filled with joy, love and excitement,” Flores said.

Before the induction began, a line of Valley police departments formed, offering their gifts to Brandon. Some including badges, certificates and Build-A-Bears of animals in police uniforms were given to him. He also received a necklace that read “Captain Brandon.”

Flustered by the large crowd in the room, Brandon was almost speechless. However, when he did speak, he repeated, “I’m happy.”