The Salvation Army of Spokane is in need of bell ringers this holiday season to help fund the important work that they do all year. I wanted to come up with a different way to tell this story. Did it work? I don’t know. But inspired by the man who once said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” (-Michael Scott), I met up with “James Wingman”.
After following a Spokane Police Department patrol car for a while Thursday morning, it finally pulled over.
My photographer Gabe and I pulled in behind them. We were there to document Officer Graig Butler and Richie Plunkett’s latest mission. They got out of their car, walked up to ours and spread out some materials across our hood. After going over the game plan, it was time for the mission to begin.
But first, Officers Butler and Plunkett needed to do one more important piece of preparation: They needed to put a diaper on a goat. A goat named “Sushi”.
Despite having kids of their own – human kids, not goat kids – the tasked proved to be a little more challenging than originally anticipated, but through teamwork, trial and error, and ultimately a bigger diaper, they got the goat all set in case it got wet.
“Come on, Sushi,” Officer Butler said as Sushi strutted up the driveway to our target house. “You’re holding me up here, kid.”
So what does a goat in a diaper trotting up a driveway next to a Spokane Police Officer have to do with Thursday’s mission?
I’m glad you asked.
A few years ago, Officer Butler met now 7-year-old Elijah and his brother, Isaiah, at a “Touch a Truck” event. A bond was formed between the officer and youngsters and the three have stayed in touch every since.
“His mom would always write thank you letters for our interactions,” Officer Butler recalled.
The latest “Thank You” letter a few months ago included an odd request from Isaiah to Officer Butler.
“He asked for a goat,” Butler smiled.
I asked Isaiah why he asked a police officer to bring him a goat.
“Because I like goats,” he laughed.
Fair enough. Officer Butler remembers another note written by Isaiah’s mom included on the card.
“The mom was like, ‘Don’t bring us a goat’,” Butler said.
However, it had just so happened that Officer Butler had recently heard of a unique way to make Isaiah’s goat dream come true.
“I had just done a fundraiser for the Wishing Star Foundation where I learned they have another fundraiser where they deliver goats to people in an unsuspecting way,” Butler said.
Butler was of course talking about the non-profit’s “Send a Friend a Goat” campaign, which raises money for the organization to help support children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses and their families. If someone sends you a goat, you can make a donation to the Wishing Star Foundation for the delivery person to take it away, and for $60 you can send the goat to a friend of yours.
Having a specific request for a goat from his young friend, Officer Butler seized the opportunity and brought Sushi to meet Elijah and Isaiah at their home on Thursday.
“I heard you guys wanted a goat, what do you think?” Officer Butler said as the two young kids opened the door.
The answer was instantaneously obvious as both kids smiled from ear-to-ear and let out loud laughs.
“Why is it wearing a diaper?” Elijah immediately asked when the laughter subsided.
“I’ll give you one guess,” Officer Butler replied.
As a member of SPD’s Community Outreach, Officer Butler says a years-long relationship like he has with Elijah and Isaiah is just one of many he’s developed as a mentor in the community. He’s also involved with the Police Activities League Boxing Program.
“I think we all feel special when we get personal attention from anyone. So I try to make each relationship meaningful,” Butler said. “There are times when it might just be a single interaction, but there are young men that I talk to on a weekly basis.”
And on Thursday, there was another connection and for two boys, a day made by two Spokane Police Officers… and a diaper-wearing goat.
After their visit with Elijah and Isaiah, Officers Butler and Plunkett took Sushi to a Spokane Valley fire station where the firefighters promptly, but graciously, decided to send Sushi along to another fire station.
Orders for in-person goat visits through The Wishing Star Foundation are closed for this year’s fundraiser, but you can still schedule a virtual goat visit through Mother’s Day.
However, if you’re not interested in a goat visit but do want to help out, you can find more information on how to donate or volunteer HERE.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom on Friday (myself included) as little Zion officially joined the Perkins family on National Adoption Day!
“Do you know why you’re here today?” he was asked as Friday’s proceedings got underway.
In front of a packed room, Zion shyly shrugged, but he knew. When I asked him the same question about 10 minutes earlier he excitedly said, “I get to get adopted today.”
Make no mistake, Zion has always been part of Jason and Denise Perkins’ family, essentially from the day he was born as they have fostered him for nearly 7 years or 2,536 days as Zion’s sign so proudly proclaimed. However, out of all of those days, Friday was perhaps the best day as he officially became the Perkins’ son.
“We kind of want to keep him forever,” jokingly told Denise Perkins told Judge Plese while tearing up.
One-by-one – grandmas and grandpas, case workers and teachers – all spoke to the courtroom about how much they loved Zion and how happy they were to welcome him to the family.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this little guy who’s probably going to be my only grandson,” Denise’s dad and Zion’s official new grandpa said.
During all the testimony, the man of the hour, Zion, sat and listened patiently as his new family surrounded him with love.
“Thank you so much for welcoming this little guy into your hearts,” Denise said to everyone in attendance.
“You’re my whole world, buddy,” Zion’s dad Jason said. “I love you very much.”
While Zion is now officially a Perkins, Adoptions Supervisor for the State of Washington’s Department of Children, Youth and Families Diana Salinas said there are many more children across the state looking for a either an adoptive or foster family of their own.
“In Washington State there’s 1200 children, probably more, waiting for adoptive homes and in Spokane we’ve actually adopted 163 children just through this month,” Salinas said.
Friday was National Adoption Day in Spokane (it’s also celebrated on Saturday, but courts aren’t open on weekends), and Salinas said it’s a chance to highlight the parents who have taken the step into adoption, but also to get the word out about the need for foster parents and adoptive parents in our community.
“We do have a need for foster parents and people who are willing to be long-term adoptive parents,” Salinas said. “There’s a great need for people who can just foster short periods of time until we find a permanent home for those children and that’s a huge need. You don’t have to sign up and be willing to adopt a child forever.”
If you’d like to know more about the foster/adoption program in Washington, CLICK HERE.
Seven years ago, Jason and Denise Perkins made the choice to foster a newborn baby and while it’s been a long journey, it’s one that officially ended Friday when they gained a son forever.
“That’s why we went into foster care,” Denise said. “To positively impact kids and it’s a hard journey, but oh my goodness, it’s so worth it. We can’t imagine our life without Zion.”
And it’s a choice they wouldn’t change for the world as Zion is now officially Zion James Perkins.
“Zion, it’s now official,” Judge Plese said while signing the papers at her bench. “You are now adopted. It’s a boy!”
Some of the amazing farmers of Eastern Washington found they had a surplus of potatoes (3 BILLION pounds) during this shutdown, so rather than let it go to waste… they are giving it away to the public and to those in need right now! My trip to Ritzville on Wednesday ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️🥔🥔🥔🥔🥔
It’s a story that’s done every year in the Spokane area. We’re well-known for our potholes. I wanted to try something different with it. Watch below!
I wanted this to be a parody of the show COPS and decided early on that my character needed to have a (horribly-delivered) Chicago/Midwest accent. Knowing this would probably not fly, I also shot a version without an accent. That’s the version that aired. This is the version I wanted to air. I think the right call was made, but here it is… Pothole Patrol: Awful Chicago Accent Edition
It’s hard to sum up 100 years of life, love, work, faith and service in just a simple story here, but I hope I’ve been able to capture and preserve a little bit of the life of a woman who has spent the last century preserving so much of her own history.
My latest venture in the reporting world was spent celebrating an amazing woman turning 100-years-old in Spokane Valley. Here is the story:
Much like smoke in the summertime or potholes in the… all the time, October is blue ash aphid season in Spokane.
I believe that means we are legally obligated to do a story on them and this year, I drew the aphid straw.
I was tasked with finding out what we can do about them and how long they will be around. The short answers: Nothing and a couple of weeks. But that would’ve only been like a 15-second story, so I stretched it out.