Cardwell receives his plaque and badge as his wife, Roberta (left), looks on.

Friday, Dec. 20, was special for Abernethy Laurels resident Carl Cardwell. Cardwell, 92 years old, became an official Catawba County Honorary Sheriff’s Deputy. Sheriff Don Brown and Newton Police Chief Vidal Sipe along with numerous representatives from both agencies took part in the Grant a Dream, a program through the retirement community that creates moments of joy for older adults.

Cardwell never worked in law enforcement, but his mind tells a different story. “Dad served in the military, but never worked as a sheriff’s deputy,” shared Mark Cardwell, Carl’s son. In 1971, Cardwell’s friend became Sheriff in the Knoxville, Tenn., area. That friend gave Cardwell a card to carry in his wallet that referred to him as an “Honorary Sheriff’s Deputy.” Nearly 50 years later, Cardwell still has this card and carries it with him.

Team members at Abernethy Laurels decided to give Cardwell an opportunity to become official. Jackie Wesson, resident services coordinator at Abernethy Laurels, nominated Cardwell for the community’s Grant a Dream program since she overheard Cardwell saying he wanted to meet the Sheriff. Cardwell’s nomination was selected and members of the Grant a Dream committee went to work.

“Sheriff Brown was overjoyed when he heard this story. He was excited to meet Carl and make him an official member of his department,” said Shaylyn Ladd, director of community engagement at Abernethy Laurels.

Cardwell was presented a plaque by Sheriff Brown, given a Bible with the oath of office, and a badge to wear on his shirt. Cardwell and his wife, Roberta, were given a ride in a Newton police car, where Cardwell got to turn on the blue lights and sirens as they made their ride through the campus of Abernethy Laurels.

“This moment created so much joy for Carl, his family, and the numerous team members from Abernethy Laurels that were able to witness it. And now that Carl is officially an honorary sheriff’s deputy, we all have to be on our best behavior,” shared Ladd.

A part of United Church Homes and Services, Abernethy Laurels is a not-for-profit retirement community in Newton, N.C. This article is reprinted with permission.