Tyler Carach, his mother and his two siblings have traveled nearly 15,000 miles — every bit of it by car — over the past 16 months in a monumental effort to let each of the nation’s almost one million law enforcement officers know how much he appreciates what he or she does.
Tyler, who lives with his family in Bratt, Fla. and attends Byrneville School, came up with the idea last summer that a proper way of showing his appreciation would be to play on one of the oldest of police stereotypes and share an array of glazed, cream-filled, sprinkle-covered or other donuts with his heroes.
“I didn’t expect it to get so big, but I wanted to thank every police officer in the country,” said Tyler, who is known far and wide, in precinct houses and squad rooms, as Donut Boy. “They’re risking their lives every day to keep people safe, and I just wanted to say ‘thank you.’ I don’t want to quit until I thank every cop in America.”
Tyler’s mother, Sheena Carach, pointed out that her son’s desire, while admirable, won’t be an easy mission to complete.
“It’s a huge goal; there are over 900,000 cops in the country,” she said. “But we’ve always taught them that, whatever it is, if they believe they can achieve it, nobody in life can hold them back. So when he came up with the plan, we had to walk the walk as parents.”
The caped youngster, who formed his own non-profit, I DONUT, brought his sticky source of gratitude to Atmore on December 21, where he, his mother Sheena, sister Nadia and brother Zack furnished donuts and coffee for the men and women of the Atmore Police Department.
“This is our first time in Atmore, and we just live right across the Florida line,” said Sheena, who is also a former police officer. “Plus, we haven’t really done anything in December before, and we wanted to do something for Christmas.”
Last week’s visit marked the first “official” appearance in Atmore by the caped crullers crusader, but Tyler and his familial entourage — each of whom wore a t-shirt with the slogan “I Donut need a reason to thank a cop” — have already taken their glazed gratitude to law enforcement agencies in more than half the nation’s states.
“It took off so fast,” Sheena said of the project’s rapid growth. “It started in Pensacola, and we’ve been to 28 states in the last 16 months. We did a 7,500-mile, six-weeks-on-the-road trip this summer. We started in South Florida and went to Vermont, then back down, with events every day.”
Another trip, similar and symbolic but shorter and a little more historic, followed.
“We just got back from a 10-day, 10-state, 10-event trip to celebrate his 10th birthday,” said Sheena Carach. “I think the total was 5,500 miles that I drove. We reached a milestone on that trip; we have now given out 50,000 donuts to police officers.”
More mileage looms on the horizon, as Tyler has already been invited to take part in National Police Week, which is celebrated in Washington, D.C. in May. He already has a June engagement in Nashville, Tenn., and a pair of donated airline tickets will allow him to travel to Hawaii.
Tyler has been sworn as a ceremonial officer in several departments across the country, and he was Commissioner for the Day of the New York City Police Department, with whom the family members visited for five days.
Sgt. Ryan James, the ranking officer during Tyler’s APD excursion, said he and his fellow officers were aware of the youngster’s effort on behalf of the men and women who wear badges and blue uniforms. And, he said, each one appreciates the thought behind it.
“Most of us were already aware of Tyler and his project,” James said. “It’s nice to see it here. It’s a great thing, and we need more of it. It means a lot, especially from a young child such as him. It really hits close to home.”