OBERLIN, Ohio (WJW) – At first glance, it may not seem like a big deal.
A third-grade student sitting next to a school resource officer, reading a Christmas story.
But it was a huge moment for 10-year-old Ricky. He has autism, is very shy, and does not like to read out loud.
“Some things he was struggling with, he has overcome a lot already,” said Lorain County Deputy Cody Northeim, who works at Firelands Elementary School in Oberlin. “He has made huge strides this year.”
School officials and Ricky’s mother say Northeim is one of the reasons Ricky is succeeding and doing so well in school.
Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti says Ricky’s mother called the school a few months ago worried that Ricky wasn’t eating. She asked if Northeim would check on him.
Northeim decided he would eat lunch with Ricky and the two quickly became friends.
“Ricky has since gained 10 pounds, which she was thrilled about,” Stammitti said.
He added the deputy also writes Ricky “inspirational notes” when he is having a difficult day.
“There is a lot I like about Ricky,” Northeim said. “He has really opened up to me a lot. I learned a lot about him, he is a unique kid and that makes him very special.”
This special friendship continues to grow.
“I’d like to see him graduate and see where he goes with his life,” Northeim said. “I think we turned him into wanting to be a police officer someday, hopefully a sheriff deputy.”