A 9-year-old Georgia boy named Jalen Manns was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May and underwent brain surgery on Friday. Before the tough procedure, he received a special visit from local police officers who prayed with him and brought him gifts.
Several officers from the Warner Robins Police Department showed up at Jalen's door before he left for the hospital. One officer, along with his K9, knelt down next to the boy and prayed with him. Video of the touching moment has gone viral.
The officer gets choked up as he begins the prayer. "Lord heavenly father, we just come to you now, Lord God, asking for your words of encouragement and strength today," the officer says, with one hand on Jalen's shoulder and one on his K9. Jalen loves German shepherds and has a huge collection of stuffed German shepherds he calls "Jalen's guard dogs," his mom, Hannah Manns tells CBS News.
Manns says most of the stuffed animals were donated by people who saw Jalen's story on Facebook. She started a page about Jalen so she could share his story and ask for ideas on how to help the 9-year-old cope. Manns also set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for her son's surgery, and it has reached nearly half of its $8,000 goal.
"We created the Team Jalen Facebook page... just to see what I could do as a mom to comfort him, because Jalen has really bad anxiety," Manns says. She says the tumor has been causing psychological and sensory issues for Jalen over time, including anxiousness.
After she posted on the Facebook page that German shepherds were Jalen's favorite animal, many people reached out and sent the boy some stuffed animals. The Warner Robins Police Department also saw the post and wanted to do something special. The police department coordinated with Manns and showed up at the family's home early on Friday morning, just before Jalen left for the hospital.
"Five or six officers came this morning and got there at 6 a.m. They knocked on the door and said we're looking for Jalen," Manns said. "He shook their hand and they gave him some gifts. ... They took him outside and he explained to them he wanted to meet all their dogs." The officers couldn't bring all of the K9s out at once, so they took turns, Manns says.
One by one, Jalen met each dog, learned their name and the officers taught him about them. The officers then escorted Jalen and his mom to Navicent Health in Macon for his biopsy.
"They walked him around the hospital to get him settled," Manns said. Jalen was worried before the surgery and suffered from anxiety. "He didn't want [the officers] to leave... I told him they have to protect our city and our homes and where we live," Manns said. Eventually, the officers had to go, but they promised Jalen they'd be back.
"They all wanted to follow up with him," Manns said. The officers gave Jalen a sense of calm during a scary time in his life, and they may be able to do that again once he has recovered from his surgery. "They said they want to redo everything again after the procedure is over," Manns said.
Jalen's surgery began around noon on Friday and was scheduled last about six to eight hours. From there, he will got straight to the pediatric intensive care unit, his mom says. The prayer before Jalen's surgery left Manns speechless, she said, and gave them the support they needed.