Busta’s Person of the Week: Local police officer creates autism patch to raise funds for Special Olympics

Busta’s Person of the Week:  Local police officer creates autism patch to raise funds  for Special Olympics
April 14
13:07 2021

By Busta Brown

“I have a son that has a rare brain disorder called Bilateral Open Lip Schizencephaly. He was born in 2013 with approximately half of his brain missing. The doctor said that he had a stroke within the uterus. We’ve been going to the hospital a lot, and he’ll have a procedure very soon to correct his scoliosis, and they’re talking about going through his back,” related Officer Mike D. Crider of the Winston-Salem Police Department.

“Having my son has truly humbled me, because he’s just a child that didn’t ask to be here, nor for any of this. I’m his dad and I love taking care of him,” said Officer Crider.  

Crider got married in June of 2020 and during their courtship, he learned that his wife’s older son has autism. The more Officer Crider spoke of his biological son and stepson, the more I had to hold back my tears. It was heartwarming to witness such a proud and loving father. He has one of the humblest spirits of any man I’ve ever met. Yet, when duty calls, he’s tough when it’s necessary. 

Not once did he stop smiling nor lose that humbleness as he spoke about his stepson’s autism. “I’ve always had a heart for special needs children, when I had my son, and now with my wife’s son. I decided to do something to raise money to fight autism as well. He’s high-functioning autism and he’s in regular classes. But he does process things differently; he thinks literally. One day we were having lunch and I said it’s nice to have this moment to break bread together. Then he said, ‘I don’t see any bread.’ We have those moments and we laugh about them, and he understands it afterwards. He knows about the diagnosis, but he doesn’t use it as a crutch. It reminds me of when I was a child with cerebral palsy, and I didn’t use that as a crutch either,” said Crider. 

It’s clear that he truly loves being a dad and raising his little warriors. The warmhearted police officer asked his department if they could create a commemorative patch to not only bring awareness to autism, but also raise funds for Special Olympics of North Carolina. 

“I created the design and then showed it to my chief and she just loved it. She’s also a parent of a child with autism. The patches are $10 each and can be purchased through the Community Resource Unit through the Winston-Salem Police Department, from officer K. Ukuzato or myself. My goal is to raise $5,000-$10,000 with this patch, with all the proceeds going to the Special Olympics of North Carolina,” shared Officer Crider. 

Crider helps coordinate a lot of the events for the Special Olympics. “I see how much they need the money because they never ask the athletes for a single dime, and make sure they have everything needed to have a successful event. And with COVID, I know extra help with fundraising was needed, so that’s why I decided to create the patches,” said Mike. 

As a biracial child born in Germany, with English as his second language, life wasn’t easy. When his family moved to America, he was bullied because of his German accent and skin tone. “I didn’t know I was Black until I moved to New York. In Germany, I was the American kid, and when I first came to America, I was the mixed kid,” said Crider. “My mom was always there to comfort me. She told me that my skin was the color of love. It’s because of my childhood I eventually got into law enforcement. 

“I always looked to help the little person, it’s naturally who I am. I love what I do! Most importantly, I love to make a difference in the lives of others. When I arrive on a call, I enjoy sitting down with them to figure out what happened, and also what I can do to avoid the same thing from happening in the future. I love talking to them about making better choices, so they can get better results,” he said. 

As a teenager, he was a part of Law Enforcement Explorers, a program for youth interested in careers in the field of law enforcement. “Not a lot of people know what police officers do, so the Explorers help bring light to all aspects of being an officer. Before joining Explorers, I wasn’t a bad kid, but I did shy away from the police because of what I grew up hearing. If you do something bad, they’re going to get ya. After I joined Explorers in High Point, I loved it! The youth did DWI ride-alongs, parking assistance, and a lot of stuff I didn’t know that police did. It gave youth a much broader perspective of what law enforcement is all about and it helped us learn to respect and honor the hard work that goes into being a police officer. It truly changed my life! I helped seven kids get into the Explorers program and mentored them as well. One day, they’ll be world-changers as well,” said Crider. 

“I want to change the world, but I know as an individual, I can’t change the world that we live in. But what I can do is change the future by talking to the youth and also making sure I’m OK when I get older,” 

My phenomenal Person of the Week is Officer Mike D. Crider. If you would like to purchase a patch to raise money for autism and the Special Olympics, call the Winston-Salem Police Department Community Resource Unit at 336-773-7835. I’ve purchased five, so the challenge is on! 

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