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Syracuse for St. Jude Gala honors youngest Ithaca Police Officer who died from cancer

He was an inspiration to many and the youngest officer in the Ithaca Police Department.

The Syracuse for St. Jude Gala held on Saturday at the OnCenter honored the memory of Colin Hayward-Toland. ElderChoice President Aaron Harris was the first recipient of the newly created Officer Colin Hayward-Toland Award. The award honors Colin’s “legacy and spirit of tenacity, resilience and positivity” by recognizing a community member each year with similar values.

Colin’s father Ian Hayward was in attendance on Colin’s behalf. “Anybody who loses a child…it’s devastating,” said Hayward. “One of the thing that happens is you just don’t want your child to be forgotten. To have Colin honored means a part of what he stood for lives on. And what Colin stood for was simple. Helping others.”

Officer Colin passed away last March at the age of 10. When he was two he was diagnosed with brain cancer and he endured several surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He was a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee. In 2016, his hometown police department named him an officer. After he passed away officers gave him a full police honor guard and escort and praised his grace and impact on the community.

“Officer Colin always used to say never give up,” said Hayward. “He learned that concept inside those doors at St. Jude. Those doctors, nurses and therapists never gave up on him. And so he in turn is teaching us don’t give up on this cause. Don’t give up on the next child that’s like me.”

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