PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Pitt County's newest sheriff's deputy is tough. He's already had six surgeries in his six short years of life, and now he is ready to tackle another challenge and help authorities fight crime.
Rolling up to the courthouse Monday morning, Tommy Judge is ready to kick off his first week on the job.
"To see him realize he can just be happy for a day is amazing," says Bobbie Judge, Tommy's mother.
Standing before a Pitt County judge, the boy was sworn in as a special deputy and law enforcement pilot.
"He's the toughest kid, he is the toughest person I know," the proud mother tells WITN.
Tommy was born with a cleft lip and palate, a heart condition, and a genetic disorder called DiGeorge syndrome, also known as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.
The syndrome causes certain developmental issues and Tommy's mother says few people with the disease live to adulthood.
"With all the surgeries he's been through and the struggles he has daily, he smiles," Deputy Christopher Syers says.
Syers met Tommy over the summer at an event for kids battling illnesses and the two became fast friends.
"I've been doing this profession a long time and you meet people daily, you meet kids daily, and it wasn't until about three weeks ago when his mom told me that Tommy has done nothing but talk about me," Syers says, realizing he could make a big difference for this little boy.
So Syers says he was determined to do something special for this tough kid.
Deputies drove him around in their cars, gave him his own uniform and then let Tommy and his little sister open up a pile of gifts.
Now with his new badge and position at the sheriff's office, Tommy's mom says the first thing he wants to do is arrest his five-year-old sister.
It also appears that Tommy doesn't really want to take off his uniform. His mom says he has already asked if he could wear it to bed that evening.