Deputies deliver for local boy with muscular dystrophy

The Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department pulled out all the stops during a private tour of the facility for a Bruceton Mills boy with muscular dystrophy. 

It all started a few weeks ago when 14-year-old David Austin and his mother Kim Burnworth began talking to Deputy Dave McDougal one day at Walmart. 

McDougal said David told him he would like to be chief deputy and ride in a police car and tour the police station. 

McDougal promised the youngster he would see what he could do. 

Earlier this week, McDougal made it happen and David got to take that tour, led by real-life Chief Deputy Mark Ralston, Sgt. Steven Neff, McDougal, and a few other officers and staff. 

The behind-the-scenes look included a walk through the booking process, including David getting handcuffed, fingerprinted, taking a breathalyzer test and saying cheese for his official mug shot. 

After a peek at a holding cell, he decided that was a place he never wanted to be. 

Later on the tour, David and Sgt. Neff even did a little light physical training on some mats in a multi-purpose area. 

Since being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 5, Burnworth said David tries to enjoy life. 

“He tries to do everything. He tries to be as normal as he can,” she said, adding that his diagnosis makes his muscles tire easily.  

“But he didn’t get tired today,” she said with a smile. 

While the inside of the sheriff’s office was cool, the real fun was outside where David, all smiles, got to check out Neff’s police cruiser and blast the lights and sirens. Mom joked he was in “hot pursuit” of the bad guys. 

The highlight of the day, however, was a surprise visit from Deputy Martin and K9 officer Rocky. 

David got to pet Rocky and Martin even taught him the command he uses to reward Rocky with his favorite toy. It probably goes without saying, Rocky was highly rewarded that day. 

As a souvenir to remember Rocky, Martin gave David one of Rocky’s old favorite toys, which the boy thought was really cool. 

Before leaving for the day, David got to meet the real big dog at the department, Sheriff Perry Palmer, and get a picture with him. 

David wasn’t sure if he would be interested in a career in law enforcement one day, but if he was, he would like to be a member of the SWAT team. 

Burnworth said they were very appreciative of McDougal and the entire sheriff’s department for the work that they do. 

McDougal said he has always had a passion for helping kids and was overjoyed to see the fun David had and the effort put in by the officers he interacted with during his visit. 

“I’m really proud that I could help make his dream come true,” he said. 

McDougal said he hopes David’s story can be a spark in the community encouraging everyone to do more for the kids being treated at WVU Medicine Children’s and kids in general. Whether that be giving them your time and attention or donating to the cause. 

“I’m sure that we could do more as human beings to take care of these kids,” he said. “I’d love to do more with kids, and I think that everybody should help whenever they can.” 

For David, the experience was something he will likely remember forever. 

“He really enjoyed it,” she said for her son, who was a little shy when it came to being interviewed. 

“When people think of the sheriff’s department, they think of crime and bad things,” she said, “but they do a lot of good things, too.” 

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