On any given Saturday, children across Joint Base Lewis-McChord are outside running and riding bicycles with friends. Most are innocently oblivious to the fact that for some kids, those are things they will never experience.
Last week, 11-year-old, Colby Pretz visited JBLM to experience a lifelong dream. For as long as Colby could remember he has wanted to be a special agent. Until then, his dream was out of reach as a baby he was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. Colby has never run or known what it is like to play outside without his wheelchair.
SMA affects motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. As a consequence, Colbys muscles continuously weaken.
Fifteen Soldiers assigned to the 44th Military Police Detachment, Criminal Investigation Division, came together to make Colbys dream of becoming a criminal investigator a reality Saturday at the CID office on JBLM Lewis Main.
Specialist Blanca Shore, a 44th MP Det. (CID) investigator, whose son also has SMA, paved the road for Colby by informing her co-workers of Colbys challenges and crime-fighting dream, and convincing them to help make his wish come true.
Shore said she met Colby and his mother, Jodi Pretz, at a Families for SMA charity potluck dinner last year, and has a special place in her heart for children who suffer from the disease.
They are awesome kids who have so much to deal with just by having the disease, Shore said. They are so happy, outgoing and bubbly.
Blancas supervisor, Special Agent Kevin Kim, 44th MP Det. (CID) assistant team chief, and his team planned a scenario that allowed Colby to realize his dream.
I am pretty sure there are other kids who want to be agents, pilots and other military specialties, Kim said. Hopefully by hearing about Colby, members of our military community will reach out to help kids become what they aspire to be.
The Soldiers set up a crime scenario that Colby responded to. He lifted finger prints, processed the crime scene and eventually took part in a hostage negotiation situation. He successfully completed the exercise and was awarded the status of Honorary Special Agent.
During his award presentation, he was presented with a CID badge, T-shirt, baseball cap and an embroidered patch he said he will proudly hang on his wheelchair.
I am just so glad that you let me do this, Colby said. I know it is very rare that you let people do this.
After the awards, Soldiers and attendees enjoyed lunch while Colby and his mother reflected on the trials of SMA and the satisfaction of Colbys triumph.
Pretz wears a purple T-shirt that displays Families of SMA. Her eyes shine when she describes her son and her devotion to him.
Colby draws people in. Hes such a special kid, Pretz said. People just want to do things for him.
She said Colby seems to have an innate gift that allows him to endure the tough times and find joy in special moments like the one JBLM CID personnel made possible.
There are some things about SMA that have advantages, Colby said. Not too many people get to go through a secret agent course.