WARSAW — The significance of the honor was not lost on 12-year-old Drake Price.
The Lincoln Elementary School fifth-grader wiped away tears as Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer read a proclamation proclaiming Feb. 2, 2018 as Drake Price Day.
The scrappy pre-teen was honored at his school with the help of more than 500 cheering students, local police from the Warsaw Police Department and Warsaw Community School Corporation Superintendent David Hoffert after being named a 2018 Riley Champion by Riley Children’s Hospital.
It’s been a year-long battle for the youngster since doctors found a brain tumor in February 2017. The physical challenges of the condition and the surgery would not prove to be Price’s only challenge as he suffered a stroke shortly after the operation. From that setback, Price endured a rigorous rehabilitation to learn how walk and talk again. A year removed from the tumor and the stroke, he smiled and stood aside Thallemer to greet the throngs of students as they filed in to Lincoln’s gymnasium for a special commemorative ceremony. The procession was delayed slightly as most of the children and teachers took the time to hug, high-five or verbally greet Price before entering the gym.
“Drake, you’ve inspired me,” said Lincoln Elementary 6th-grade teacher Scott Sterk, who served as emcee for the event. “This guy goes out of his way to make everybody happy despite everything he’s gone through.”
Hoffert took the floor to make the official announcement of the Riley honor. “This is the first time we’ve (Warsaw Community School Corporation) had an elementary student as a Riley Champion,” Hoffert said. “Drake, you’re a role model.”
Having dreamed of being a police officer, Price was also honored with a strong showing from the Warsaw Police Department, including Chief of Police Scott Whitaker, Capt. Joel Beam and Lt. Chuck Hodges. The police department has honored Price in the past, including providing a police escort home from Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis and by naming him an honorary officer. “You are a brother in blue now,” said Beam.
As Thallemer read the proclamation that sealed the deal for Drake Price Day, the current mayor told Price he would make a good successor. “I think you could run for mayor,” Thallemer said. “I have no doubt you have what it takes.” Price took off his blue glasses and wiped away tears before speaking to the crowd and saying “Thank you guys for coming.”
Price’s parents, Miles and Charity Price beamed with pride as the family joined Thallemer, Hoffert and the law enforcement contingent to display a banner commemorating Price’s champion status.
“To see where he is now compared to where he was, it’s amazing,” said Miles Price with tears running down his cheeks. “Lots of prayers have been shining down upon us and the support from the school, the police and even where I work has been amazing.”