Police Academy Cadets Give Fallen Officer’s Mom A Home Makeover

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Miami Police Academy cadets are preparing to graduate on Friday, but before their big day, they’re lending a hand to a woman who lost her son in a traffic accident.

They say the holiday season is a time for giving, but sometimes the ones who really need a gift are the ones who have lost a loved one and are spending the holidays alone.

“The sadness remains,” said Teresa Canalejo, whose son, Miami Police Ofc. Osvaldo Canalejo, was killed in 1992. “But I’m extremely happy and honored.”

Ofc. Canalejo died in a crash while responding to an emergency call. He had served five years on the force.

“There was only three in the family,” she said. “Myself, my husband who passed away about four years ago, and my son who passed away in 1992.”

Not a day goes by, she says, without thinking of the son she lost. The Miami Police Academy wanted to let her know that they haven’t forgotten him either — and that she will always be a part of their family.

“This lady is here alone. She’s got no one, she’s a widow,” said Miami Police Ofc. Freddie Cruz. “But we wanted her to know that she does have over 1,000 sons and daughters in the Miami Police Department.”

The cadets got to work, helping to landscape her yard and make a number of general repairs to the home — everything from trimming trees and lining the front yard with new plants, to painting the house.

“It’s an honor, to be honest, to come out here and serve the communities is what police should be about,” said cadet Robert Novak. “Obviously, protecting the people and coming out here communicating and letting them know just because we bear a badge don’t make us better than anyone else.”

For many of the cadets, they consider their colleagues to be their brothers and sisters.

“It is the way to show that it doesn’t take blood to be family,” said cadet Lauren Garcia. “We’ve gone through a hectic 6 1/2 months and that’s something that every officer has to go through and it’s something that we can all relate to and really understand.”

It may be a hard day’s work but, in the end, seeing the smile on Mrs. Canalejo’s face makes it all worth while.

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