WISCONSIN, (KWCH) A 9-year-old Wisconsin boy and his family had no idea a trip to the beach would turn into the trip of a lifetime.
Ethan Kranig has a rare disease called ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia. A genetic condition involving a variety of issues including missing fingers and toes, a cleft lip and palate, and growth problems.
His mother wanted him to see the sea in his lifetime, so she planned a family trip to the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey.
When New Jersey native John Lynch discovered his story, he made it his mission to help Ethan have the best experience.
Lynch started an organization called Lunch with Lynch, which serves at-risk youth in his community.
With help from the foundation, Ethan spent a day at the beach as an honorary lifeguard and his family also had a police escort through town.
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.
"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."
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.