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EUREKA, Mo. – It was a tremendously special first day of school for a Rockwood School District family. More than 20 police officers from at least 10 departments gathered outside a Chesterfield home to walk 5-year-old Carmine Matteline to school for his first day of kindergarten.

The cops are all friends of Carmine’s dad, Andy, a Woodson Terrace police officer. He’s been hospitalized for weeks fighting esophageal and stomach cancer.

His buddies decided they’d help out.

Officer Chris Kaatmann said it’s something Andy would do for all of them.

He said, “We’re friends but we’re family also. We want to do whatever we can to again make this day special for him and his family,” Kaatmann said.

At the last minute, Andy, accompanied by two nurses from SLU Hospital and his brother-in-law, who’s a physician, showed up to take part. Andy could leave the hospital for a few hours. He shared his love with his wife Mary, Carmine, and his 3-year-old daughter, Evelyn. Fellow officers lined up to show him how much they care for him. It was like a powerful medicine.

“Get the joy, you can’t but that, get the happiness; this is awesome,” Andy Matteline said. “Thank you, guys, so much. It’s amazing to see that support.”

Officers from the St. John, Bel-Bor, Breckenridge Hills, Chesterfield, Maryland Heights, Warson Woods, Normandy, Webster Groves, and St. Louis County police departments, and deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office participated.

Andy’s wife, Mary, watched while fighting back tears.

“It’s pretty amazing. It’s so touching to see everyone here and everyone that hears about Andy wants to be there for Carmine,” Mary Matteline said.

Andy, friends, and family accompanied Carmine to school. There’s more to this story. Carmine is autistic, his parents have spent countless hours guiding him and preparing him so like any other 5-year-old boy he’d be ready to go to kindergarten. Despite cancer, Andy is seeing that very important dream come true.

“This is one of the biggest days and I didn’t want to miss this. He means the world to me. We’ve been through a lot together,” Andy said.