Elgin police get a special visit from a big fan from Marklund
Elgin police officers had a special visitor who was all smiles and high-fives during afternoon roll call Wednesday at the police station.
Darren Walker, 28, is a resident of Marklund Wasmond Center in Elgin, a facility for children and young adults with profound disabilities. He can move only his left hand, which he uses to grab a pointer and tap on an iPad that communicates what he wants to say.
"I love working at the police station!" he told officers. "I love working here too … sometimes!" officer Dave Rodriguez replied, laughing.
This was the second time Walker greeted officers at roll call, and his third visit at the police station in the past three or so months. Marklund program director Tammy Armstrong said she's grateful the department was so responsive when she contacted them asking if they could do something special for Walker, who loves police officers.
"The smile on his face is so genuine," she said. "It just means the world to him."
Cmdr. Frank Trost said it's a pleasure to make Walker happy. "We like to see people who enjoy coming to the police department, and he's fun to be around," he said. "It brings joy to a lot of people here, too."
Officer Robby Soberano agreed. "It's very difficult when you can't communicate verbally," said Soberano, whose 8-year-old son has autism and also uses a tablet to communicate. "What they can do with technology is amazing."
Walker's mother, Bridget Kane of Chicago, said she is grateful for the care her son gets at Marklund and the opportunities he has to get out and have fun. "I adore them," she said.
Walker, her middle child, grew up in Chicago as a shy kid who loved basketball so much that he once got sick to his stomach from excitement when he ran into NBA great Scottie Pippen, she said.
His impairment was the result of a brain hemorrhage he suffered at age 15 on the basketball court, she said.
"He went up for a jump shot, someone went up under him, and Darren fell and hit his head on the concrete," she said.
Doctors discovered he had an undiagnosed brain arteriovenous malformation, she said.
"It turns out Darren was having headaches, but he was always such a really quiet guy, he never complained about anything," she said. "He had surgery that day. At first they thought he wasn't going to make it. I told (them), 'I'm not listening to that because God told me different.'"
As for his love for police, Darren never talked about that in his youth, although his father did work for a time for the Chicago Police Department.
"It doesn't surprise me," she said, "with the love that he has for people."