9-year-old who became Reno Police Chief for a day passes away

Published: Jan. 9, 2019 at 10:07 PM PST|Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 4:02 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A sad update to a story we brought you in January 2019. A Reno boy, who became Reno Police Chief for a day, has passed away.

Ben Anderson had been battling a terminal genetic disease called adrenoleukodystrophy.

The Reno Police Department on Monday shared the news that he had passed away.

We here at KOLO 8 News Now are saddened to hear of Ben’s passing and our hearts go out to his family and friends.

ORIGINAL STORY: Standing in front of the mayor at the Reno City Council meeting is something that would make many people nervous. But not Ben Anderson, even though he is only nine years old. His mother says he has always been a strong-willed boy with a lot of grit.

"He's always had determination to be able to do things well and that's carrying him through what's going on right now in his life," says Katie Anderson.

What's going on in Ben's life is something no child should ever have to go through. Ten months ago, Ben was diagnosed with a terminal genetic disease called adrenoleukodystrophy.

"It will be the cause of his death eventually but he is doing much better than doctors ever could have imagined," says his mom.

It's in part through the love and support of the community, Ben was able to become Reno Police Chief for a day on Wednesday. That's what brought him to the City Council meeting and in front of Mayor Hillary Schieve, where Reno Police Chief Jason Soto made the announcement he'd be taking over as chief and told Ben how he would be spending his day. Activities included making a traffic stop, locking up "bad guys" and even taking a donut break. Of course, Reno Police officers were playing the roles of the bad guys, but that didn't stop Ben from having a great time.

"It was pretty cool," he says.

And even with his limited law enforcement experience, he didn't shy away from offering advice to other officers.

"They got to be nice," he says. "They only have to be mean when it comes to bad guys."

"It was very special for all of us," says Chief Soto. "He is nonstop, just go-go-go, and his attitude and approach to life, his love for life and people around him, it's a lesson for all of us on how to approach every day."

Ben's mother agrees, saying he is not letting his diagnosis slow him down.

“He’s not giving in to what’s happening to him right now, he’s living a full life,” she says. “He;s living his life. It’s not the life we wanted him to have, but it’s the life that hes been given so we’re just doing our best to find all the silver linings that we can.”

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