NYPD turns 16-year-old with cerebral palsy's wheelchair into police cruiser

NEW YORK CITY -- New York City police officers played Santa Wednesday, giving a big surprise to a boy with cerebral palsy.

Sixteen-year-old Aidan Riley, who uses a wheelchair to get around, got a sweet new ride that allows him to be an NYPD officer, just like his dad.

"Oh my God, I tried to envision it, you know, the past couple of days," Officer Merritt Riley said. "But I never could envision what it turned out to be."

Aidan's wheelchair is now a miniature replica of an NYPD cruiser, outfitted specifically to fit over the wheelchair he uses every day. It even has his name and badge number on it: 2806, the same as his father.

"As you can hear, he's got...flashing lights," said David Vogel, with Magic Wheelchair. "And it's really, basically, he has a police cruiser."

Merritt Riley is a 22-year NYPD veteran assigned to the Midtown North Precinct. He and his partner started a foundation nearly five years ago called "NYPD with Arms Wide Open" that supports officers who have special needs children. And that got the attention of Magic Wheelchair, a non-profit organization that builds epic costumes for kids in wheelchairs at no cost to the family.

"The Magic Wheelchair had found out about our foundation, contacted us, and it just all came together," Merritt Riley said.

The NYPD Fleet Services Division spent two months building Aidan's custom cruiser, made of fiberglass, body plastic and salvage lights and sirens from older police cars.

The car was a free present for Aidan, but the real gift was for those who put the smile on his face.

"It was probably the greatest gift I could have ever imagined," said Vartan Khachadurian, of the NYPD Fleet Services Division. "Sorry, getting emotional. But I love it."
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