9-year-old with brain tumor 'beaming' after day with a state trooper
Tyler Bryant was a bit unsure what to make of it when state police Trooper Jon Colarusso first showed up at the boy's York Township home Tuesday.
But the trooper's arresting personality quickly won over Tyler, according to his mother, Ashley Bryant.
"The interaction between the two of them was so genuine and real," she said. "It was so cute, because at first (Tyler) didn't quite get what was going on ... he was sort of taking it all in. But when he got to turn on the (cruiser's) lights, he got this huge smile on his face."
In June, just before his 9th birthday, Tyler was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and now he has two more tumors growing in his brain, Bryant said.
They're highly aggressive and tend not to respond well to radiation, although Tyler is going through a course of radiation now, his mother said.
She said she, Tyler and his two siblings simply try to live in the moment.
"That is all we can do. If I think about tomorrow or next week or next year, it brings me to tears," Bryant said. "We have this time together, and we make the most of it."
Small gestures: Tyler can't go to school and is stuck in the house a lot, so he really enjoys when people simply stop by to say hello, his mother said.
"Those little gestures mean the world," she said. "He was beaming from ear to ear that entire day (of Colarusso's visit) because someone gave their time — their own time — just to say hi to him."
One of the people who have been supportive of the family is Tyler's hairdresser, Dana Schlosser of Alfano's Downtown Stylists in York City, according to Bryant.
One day a week, she wears one of the Bryant family's "Tyler Tough" T-shirts and sets aside all her tips on those days to help Tyler, Schlosser said.
Schlosser also cuts Colarusso's hair, and that's how the trooper heard about the boy.
"She was tearing up as she was talking to me about him," the trooper said. "Between Tyler's story and Dana's generosity, I felt compelled to do something."
So on Tuesday, Colarusso, a criminal investigator in PSP's York station, donned his uniform, hopped in a cruiser and went to visit Tyler, bearing gifts including a "PSP Strong" T-shirt, a PSP sweatshirt and a patch.
'An inspiration': But mostly, the trooper and the boy simply hung out.
"His strength and perseverance is an inspiration. In the short time I was with him, it was incredible to see how strong and mature he is," Colarusso said. "We did the whole lights-and-siren thing. ... I showed him the (in-car) computer and all the gadgets in there."
Tyler not only got to hold the cruiser's radar gun, he actually got to use it.
"We checked the speed of a car or two driving down the road," Colarusso said. "He definitely enjoyed that."
"Tyler didn't think he'd be strong enough to hold (the radar gun) because it's pretty big," Bryant said, but Colarusso assured the boy he'd help, and Tyler realized he had the strength to do it by himself.
Tyler grinned all day after the trooper's visit, according to Bryant, and he's asked to wear his PSP sweatshirt every day since then.
"What boy doesn't love a police car?" Bryant asked. "I will never be able to thank him enough."
Grace, dignity: Colarusso said he was moved by the grace and dignity with which Tyler and his mom handle his diagnosis.
"It almost left me speechless," he said. "These people are just incredible."
Bryant said that since the visit, she and Colarusso have been emailing back and forth daily so he can check in on her son, who has another adventure coming up.
Tyler is "ecstatic" about going on a Disney cruise later this year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, his mother said.
Schlosser said she's been saving up her tips so Tyler has extra spending money on that cruise.
"So he could do something fun," she said.
'Leads by example': PSP Sgt. Steven Wise called Colarusso an "exceptional trooper" who is well-respected in York County's law-enforcement community and just one of a number of York-based troopers who volunteer in the community in different ways.
"He leads by example," Wise said. "It's every day that Jon is mentoring young troopers and giving them advice on cases. He has a tireless work ethic. You'll often find Jon here (at the barracks) on his own time."
If you'd like to help Tyler Bryant, information is available online. His Facebook page is "Tyler Tough," and he has nearly 500 likes so far.
Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/tylertough. The fund has so far raised more than $4,800.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.