On Monday at Doral City Hall, city officials did the best they could to make dreams come true for two brothers, naming one mayor for the day, and the other police chief.
The Mejia brothers — Sebastian, 8 and Alejandro, 7 of Doral — were both born with a rare genetic mutation called Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba: a degenerative disease that has no cure, and no exact prognosis on the time they have left.
Sebastian’s dream is to one day be president of the United States. Alejandro wishes to be his big brother’s pilot on Air Force One.
“Although we do not have the authority to run an election and nominate Sebastian as president of the United States, or have Air Force One available for Alejandro, we would like to do the next best thing which is to acknowledge Sebastian Mejia as honoree mayor,” Mayor Luigi Boria said, tears in his eyes.
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Alejandro was appointed as mayor for the day, and Sebastian as police chief. The boys received keys to the city, a police badge and exclusive rides in a city cop car around the block.
As Boria handed Sebastian with keys to the city, he told him that he will be sending a letter to President Obama and the Conference of Mayors “for them to know the story of these two young brave hearts.”
Police Chief Donald De Lucca then pronounced Alejandro as police chief for the day with an honorary police badge and plaque.
The young boy’s jaw dropped. He then hugged the award.
“There are very few things that can move a grown man, and this moment is one of them,” De Lucca said. “Alejandro, you picked the right job. You’re joining the greatest fraternity in the world.”
De Lucca told the Herald that as chief, this is what keeps him going.
“I think this is why we’re cops. It’s why we come to work; to make people’s lives better.”
The brothers are in second and third grade at John I. Smith K-8 Center in Doral. They love school and excel in academics.
“I love science, math, P.E. and Albert Einstein,” Sebastian told the Herald.
His dream is to “graduate, go to Harvard and become president.
“Although he feels pain, and has weakness, he insists in going to class. This past week he made Honor Roll,” Boria said.
Sebastian suffers from “arthritis, macrocephaly, von Willebrand’s disease, thyroid cancerous growth, Epistaxis, and two herniated discs due to the weight of his head,” according to city officials. “Alejandro is a bit better, but he has a gastric problem, and high cholesterol issues. “
“I’m so grateful for all the good people of love who have surrounded our lives on a daily basis when we fall and get back up again,” mother Maria Fernandez said, adding that “this geture from the city helps the kids get their minds off the hopital.
“Life is more than a hospital,” she said, as the boys’ father Ivan Mejia nodded, his eyes glossy.
Recently, Alejandro was hospitalized. However, Hernandez said it was an experience that warmed her heart.
“The kids were using Facetime and Sebastian told his little brother ‘I need you, brother. I have faith that we will be together again soon.’”
A dozen of the children’s classmates and their parents, along with teachers, the school principal, the family nurse, city staff and police officers, sat in the chambers to watch the swearing in ceremony.
Both brothers got goody bags, checks from the city and police department, along with commendation certificates.
“They may not understand exactly what it is that is happening to them or why, or even where it is all going, but they do understand what it is to live in the present and what it is to work through the daily challenges life has set in front of them,” City Manager Eduardo Rojas said. “They know what it is to face those challenges with: courage, faith and hope.”
Alejandro’s response was short and sweet.
“Thanks for everything. God bless you,” he said.
There was not a dry eye in the room.
“Sebastian, you might not be president yet, but you’re president of our hearts,” Councilwoman Christi Fraga said. “And Alejandro, you’re the pilot of our spirit.”
When asked about what his first item on the agenda as mayor will be, Sebastian responded: “For people can help special kids like me and my brother.”
Follow @MoniqueOMadan on Twitter.