Lehigh Valley

Terminally ill boy becomes sheriff for a day

'It touches your heart,' Lehigh County Sheriff Joe Hanna says

Terminally ill boy becomes sheriff for a day

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Lehigh County Sheriff Joe Hanna temporarily relinquished his role to a very special young boy on Friday.

Meeting Kaleb Holder, it's easy to see the 8-year-old boy loves people and the law, which is part of the reason Hanna stepped aside to swear in the Allentown boy as sheriff for the day.

"He's facing this medical malady," Hanna said. "It touches your heart."

That's the other reason for the honorary title. Kaleb suffers from the rare disease adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD.

"They're going to lose their ability to walk, talk, see, hear, everything," said his mom, Janelle Daly.

By June, she said Kaleb will be in a vegetative state and probably won't see his ninth birthday.

Friday was about giving Kaleb the experience he'll never be able to live. It included riding in a cruiser and meeting and, in Kaleb fashion, hugging Lehigh County's top judge.

"He's a credit to himself. He's well-raised and an example of strength," said Lt. Stephen Mould.

Kaleb also received gifts from the sheriff's office.

Law enforcement is in his family's blood. Deputy Richmond Penn, a family friend, said Kaleb has always shunned superheroes for the real-life version.

"Every time I come home, he's excited to see me in my uniform. He's just really into police and civil service," Penn said.

Friday was Kaleb's chance to inspire those who inspire him.

"He can feel what it's like to be a police officer or a sheriff before he passes. It means a lot that he has the opportunity of that experience," his mom said through tears.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Kaleb's medical costs.


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