CHICAGO - A young man says he has just one request for his 12th birthday. He wants donations to help keep police officers safe.
It's part of a project called "Get Behind the Vest" – buying police officers life-saving and bullet-proof vests.
Talon Joynt is a regular 6th grader with an extraordinary passion. When the 11-year-old isn't playing hockey or at school, he's working to help first responders.
“As I grew up, I learned more and more about them and how they're saving lives and helping people,” Talon said.
What started as visits to fire and police stations evolved into something bigger.
“I wanted to help, and so I decided to raise money for them,” Talon said.
So Talon made a video asking for donations to "Get Behind the Vest." It's a "Chicago Police Memorial Foundation" initiative, to get every officer a functional and bullet-proof vest.
“If we can save an officer's life that way, and keep them with their family, it's one less thing that we have to worry about when they go out on the street,” said Bridget Schuda of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
Schuda says the call from Talon's mom Janeen was heartwarming.
“You don't get that call often. Not a lot of 12 year olds are out there thinking, let's support our police officers and buy them vests,” Schuda said.
CPD supplies all rookie officers with their first vests. But after they expire five years later, officers are on their own to replace them.
“They deteriorate. When they wear them in the middle of the summer, and its 95 degrees, the sweat gets into them,” Schuda said.
And the vests are saving lives. Just three months ago, Officer Fernando Soto was shot in the middle of his back, but left the scene with just bruises.
“Fortunately, the vest was one of our get behind the vest vests, and it did save his life,” Schuda said.
To date, "Get Behind the Vest" has provided more than 8,000 vests for officers in just the five years since it started. The foundation chooses who gets the vests based on need and which officers have served the longest.
“They're out there putting their lives on the line for you, for me,” Talon said.
And with future first responders like Talon getting behind the cause, those officers might be just a little safer.
“Thank you for your service, and most importantly, stay safe. Those are the two big things,” Talon said.
Talon's birthday is this Tuesday. So far, he’s raised enough money for one vest.
To learn more about the foundation and to donate, CLICK HERE