New Jersey police grant wish of 9-year-old boy with rare disease

When Ethan Kranig and his mom Natalie planned a trip to the beach, they had no idea it would turn in to the trip of a lifetime. 

Ethan, a 9-year-old from Wisconsin, has a rare disease called ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia. Children born with this genetic condition can experience a variety of issues including missing fingers and toes, a cleft lip and palate, and growth problems. In Ethan's case, one of his major symptoms is the loss of most of his eyesight. His mother planned a family trip to the beach last week in Wildwood, New Jersey, to make sure he would "see the sea" in his lifetime.

Little did they know, a New Jersey man named John Lynch had gotten wind of their story through a mutual friend. Lynch started an organization called Lunch with Lynch, which serves at-risk youth in his community. When he heard the family was making a trip to Wildwood, Lynch made it his mission to help them have the best experience possible using the connections he'd made through his foundation.

LETS show the Kranig family some FB LOVE !!!! Meet Ethan from Prescott, Wisconsin - Super E is visiting Wildwood as he wanted to "See the Sea" as he is dealing with some serious sight and health issues! If watching this video does not make your heart melt - well nothing will .... this 9 year old boys excitement of running into the ocean for the "first time" is PRICELESS!!! Mom's reaction is awesome too ... THANK YOU - Middle PD, Wildwood, PD, Wildwood Fire Department, Wildwood Beach Patrol, Morey's, Magnolia DQ, Joe's Pizza and everyone else who made Ethan dream come true from WI to NJ!!! #PowerOfCommunity #YouInspireKindness #LunchWithLynch #nurses & #emts Rock :-)

Posted by John Lynch on Sunday, July 16, 2017

First, Ethan got to spend a day at the beach as an honorary life guard. He and his family also had a police escort through town. But when Lynch learned from Ethan's mom that his dream was to be a police officer, he organized an even bigger surprise. He called the local police chief, Robert Regalbuto, and asked if he'd meet with Ethan. 

Chief Regalbuto offered something better -- to swear Ethan in as an honorary police officer in front of the entire department.

I think my heart has finally burst!!!! When Chief Robert Regalbuto of the Wildwood Police Department heard that Ethan wanted to be a police offer he gave me a direct order! "I want Ethan and his mom at the Wildwoods Sign at 8am on 7/17/17 sharp!" ... at 8:22am Ethan Kranig was officially sworn in as a Wildwood Police Officer. Patrolmen Kranig was invited to be a part of the departments 2017 staff photo! Congratulations to Ethan and his emergency room nurse and EMT mom Natalie Kranig !!!! Thank you Commissioner Leonetti and Chief Regalbuto! #PowerOfCommunity #YouInspireKindness #SeeTheSea Any Police Departments would like to send a Patch from your department towards Ethan's collection please do so by sending them to: The Lunch With Lynch Foundation PO Box 1322 Wildwood,NJ 08260 ... thank you - John Lynch

Posted by John Lynch on Monday, July 17, 2017

On July 17th, Ethan's dream came true.

"When he walked up and everyone met him there was a crazy buzz," Lynch said. "It was an incredible vibe, because it's hard to get everyone together ... I don't think I've had a day I was more proud to be an American."

"I can tell you that we both cried," Natalie Kranig told CBS News of the moment her son was sworn in. "I knew this was the most amazing moment for my son. My heart melts."


Natalie and Ethan

Lunch with Lynch

The video of Ethan's swearing in has since gone viral. For Natalie, who works as an EMT, and her family the outpouring of support comes at a moment when they need it most. Ethan has undergone 29 surgeries as a result of his disease, and the beach vacation was planned in coordination with a trip to Johns Hopkins for a follow up to his latest procedure. But her husband lost his job over a year ago, and the cost of Ethan's mounting medical bills and travel to Baltimore has caused the family home to go into foreclosure, Natalie said. They've set up an online fundraiser to help pay for Ethan's treatments.

"It's a terrible situation to choose between your mortgage payment or your son's vision," Natalie said. "It's hard for me, but he's always been a happy kid. I know these are memories I can refer back to when things get tough."

To make sure Ethan always has those memories and more, the Lunch with Lynch Foundation set up a drive to send first responder uniform patches to Ethan for his growing collection. He hopes to have a patch from every state one day.