This year, volunteers included officers from Vancouver Police Department, Battle Ground Police Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol
for Clark County Today
Smiles took over one corner of the city of Vancouver early Saturday (Dec. 2) morning as multiple police agencies around Clark County participated in the annual Shop With a Cop event. Sponsored by the home fitness company Nautilus, the event was held at the Target on Mill Plain Blvd. and NE 162nd Ave. and hosted about 100 local children.
The participating children were allowed to shop for items for themselves and gifts for family members in the company of a police officer volunteer. This year, volunteers included officers from Vancouver Police Department, Battle Ground Police Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol.
The shoppers were given a spending amount and let loose into the store (along with their designated officer, of course!) to make their selections. There were also students and parents from King’s Way Christian School who volunteered to wrap the items that children choose as gifts for family members. Children participating in the event were pre-selected and may have been referred to the program by an officer in response to a call for service, or social service agencies may identify a child in need and coordinate their participation.
Natalya Guzman was in attendance with two of her children. Selah, her only daughter, is six years old and was recently presumed to be diagnosed with Spina Bifida Occulta. She has been suffering severe neurological side effects of the birth defect, including upper body tremors and loss of bladder and bowel functions.
“Thank God we have her in the school we do,” Natalya told Clark County Today. “She goes to Kids on the Rock, which is at our church, and any other place would have kicked her out because she’s in pull ups (diapers). They’re so great with her. She used to be so bubbly and happy and every once in a while, when I go to the chapel service at the school or another event, I get a glimpse of her normal self.”
Other times, Natalya said, are a different story. “Her body shakes so hard, it’s like a seizure, and she can’t control it. She can’t stop. It breaks my heart to see it happen. She’s a completely different person than she was even earlier this year.”
The family has one more child out of their five who is potty training and then they were supposed to have a financial break from purchasing diapers. Instead, they had to start paying more money on pull ups for Selah.
“Luckily she’s small, so I can still squeeze her into the normal size they sell at the stores,’’ Natalya said. “But soon she won’t fit into those. I’ve looked up the prices on the bigger sizes and I’m really nervous about how we’re going to afford those with all the appointments and surgeries she’ll have to have.”
In addition to the defect and the neurological issues, she is also being tested this week for a tumor in her head, possibly in her brain, as doctors believe this is the cause for the recent almost total blindness of her left eye. Earlier this year, the doctor prescribed glasses for her since she was having sight issues, but Natalya said that it came out of nowhere and she’d previously had normal eyesight. She continued to advocate for Selah through this and, as her eyesight continued to decline, eventually they discovered the potential for the tumor.
“It’s been such a hard year, and we weren’t sure how we were going to afford Christmas for our kids,” Natalya said through tears. “This is such a huge blessing and I’m so grateful that my kids were able to have a positive experience at Shop With a Cop. I was told that PAL [Police Activities League] was also going to bring Christmas dinner to our house. I don’t even know what to say. I’m so grateful. I’m just asking everyone to please pray hard for my sweet little Selah. She’s my only daughter, and she’s so full of life. I just want her to be herself again.”
The Guzman family is covered by state-issued insurance. They’re legal immigrants from Mexico; while Natalya has gained citizenship, her husband has been attempting to do so for several years. They’ve gone through all legal processes for him and spent thousands of dollars on that, including an attorney to help speed it up (to no avail). Both parents work as much as they can, and they homeschool two of their children, while two attend Kids on the Rock and one is in public school.
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