Officers with the Boynton Beach Police Department in Florida attended a young boy’s 5th grade graduation ceremony in place of his father, a former police officer with the department who died of a heart attack in 2016.
The boy, Kaleb Crowder, graduated from Northboro Elementary in West Palm Beach on Friday. Nine of his father Joe Crowder’s former colleagues cheered Kaleb on from the audience as he walked across the stage.
The Palm Beach Post reported that the elder Crowder was just 44 years old when he unexpectedly passed away of a heart attack while exercising.
Crowder, who served with the Boynton Beach Police Department nearly 15 years, was a K-9 handler and a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army reserves.
Following his death, a dog park was named in his memory.
“When he was walking down the red carpet and he saw us his face just lit up,” a former colleague said. “He sat two rows in front of us and kept looking back at all of us. There were lots of hugs and smiles.”
“In each and every one of us, Joe was there,” she added.