Fifty Hugs for Saving Humanity

Written by: Jeremy Baumhower

I don’t know if it’s the water we drink that former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner famously wanted to sell or maybe it’s the air we breathe; but there is something about Toledo that changes it’s residents’ hearts.

In a world with current headlines about violence, plane crashes and Kardashians; a simple act of kindness by one of Toledo’s finest is the perfect distraction and medicine any Cardiologist would prescribe.

Tyler Wiley is a pretty normal 22 year-old aspiring artist. His life revolves around his work, his family and of course, Facebook. What makes him unique is Tyler has Down Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease. Like most people his age his life is pretty dependent on his cell phone. Sandy Wiley, Tyler’s mom stated in a message to the Toledo Police Department “(Tyler’s) livelihood is his social media with his cell phone….he doesn’t have friends like you and I to go hang out”.

Then a bad thing happened to Tyler, his cell phone came up missing; it’s believed that someone stole his cell phone while he at work, making art.

In a moment of frustration; Tyler’s mom shared the news of the lost phone on Facebook. She was venting as any parent would, not knowing if her son misplaced his favorite gadget or a possibly worse scenario. What she did know for sure was the cost of the replacement phone, $150.

What happened next would only happen in Toledo.

The following day a Toledo Police cruiser drove up to the Wiley’s driveway. Tyler’s mom was confused and a little alarmed when she spotted the police car. A TPD officer wearing his blues emerged from the car, I imagine his heart was leading the way.

Mrs. Wiley soon recognized the familiar face of the officer “she had not seen in years”. Officer Otto Rectenwald, a 19 year-veteran of the Toledo Police Department, had met Tyler and his mom 7-8 years earlier when he was a School Resource Officer.

After a quick embrace and a confused expression, Officer Rectenwald reached not for his firearm, not for a blank citation, but rather his wallet. Officer Otto asked Sandy to put out her hand; as she did, he placed $150 in cash on it and stated “I know you are going to replace Tyler’s phone, I would like to instead.”

Instant tears rained down a mother’s face.

A few seconds later; Tyler was being dropped off by his bus after a long day of creating art. Equally confused about the patrol car in the driveway and his mom’s tears, Tyler was reunited with an old acquaintance and some good news. Sandy Wiley showed Tyler the money and told her son why the officer was there.

“Tyler started crying and hugged Officer Otto at least fifty times”, his mom choking up as she recalled the moment.

When Officer Otto read Sandy’s Facebook post, he knew how important this cell phone was to this young man, how affected he was by it’s disappearance and the strain $150 can cause a family. The man who swore an oath to “protect and serve” decided to do something above and beyond the call of duty that day.

Overwhelmed by this random act of kindness, Tyler’s mom messaged the TPD’s Facebook account, shared the story and attached the picture below.

Photo Courtesy of the Toledo Police Department's facebook page

Photo Courtesy of the Toledo Police Department’s Facebook page

The humble officer wasn’t looking for any attention, zero tweets were sent; he got back in his cruiser and proceeded to the next call.

Otto Rectenwald, whose job is often filled with life’s darkest moments, saw an opportunity to right a wrong, so he did. He never thought his good deed would go public, he was just doing what Toledoans and cops do best… pick somebody up when their cards are down. Mission accomplished.

I was able to connect with Sandy Wiley via the phone as she shared the heartwarming events of that day; “I’ve been protecting Tyler from society for 22 years… then someone in society does something like this. This instantly restored my faith in humanity.”

Officer Otto pulled a lot more than the $150 in cash from his back pocket, he pulled-out love from his heart and handed it to a deserving family at the time they needed it the most.

Thank you Officer Otto Rectenwald for not only being good police, but for being a better person.



Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in #ToledoIsBeautiful, Baumhower, Column, Crime, Facebook, Family, Feels, Life, Parenting, Toledo, Viral
2 comments on “Fifty Hugs for Saving Humanity
  1. Chris says:

    Thank you for sharing. I know this family well, they are great people. So happy for Tyler. And this act of kindness does not surprise me from one of our police officers. We are blessed in Toledo.


  2. Great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.


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Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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