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A split-screen video call with an RCMP officer in red serge with a Canadian flag behind her on the left and a young man wearing a Stetson-style hat and red jacket on the right.

RCMP officer makes wish come true for young man with autism

The chance to chat with an RCMP officer was a birthday wish come true for David Rivera, a 21-year-old Arizona man with autism. Credit: Elba Pritchard


What started as a letter to the Prime Minister ended with a meeting of a lifetime for a 21-year-old Arizona man who lives with autism.

David Rivera loves the RCMP. He's been fascinated with the organization since he was six years old, according to his grandmother, Elba Pritchard. His interest started when he saw an RCMP uniform on a television show. He's even made his own replica Red Serge with a Stetson-style hat, a red jacket, boots, and belts.

This year, his birthday wish was to meet an RCMP officer. Pritchard wrote to the Prime Minister to tell him of her grandson's passion, and when the message reached the RCMP, a meeting was arranged. The birthday wish came true in July when Rivera met RCMP Sergeant Major Julie Gagnon on a video call.

"I was really surprised by the response and I was a little emotional. I expected maybe a picture or a letter on Mountie letterhead. I didn't expect this response," says Pritchard, adding that Rivera was super excited for the meeting.

On the call, Rivera and Gagnon spoke about the RCMP uniform, how he likes Canada but has never been to the country, and how he would like to meet a Mountie in real life one day. Gagnon taught Rivera the RCMP salute, showed off her knee-high brown boots, and explained the meaning of the patches on her uniform.

An honorary Mountie

After the meeting, Gagnon wanted to do more and sent package containing RCMP memorabilia. "I promised David to make him an honorary Mountie and sent him a few things to add to his collection," says Gagnon.

Days later, Rivera received Gagnon's package in the mail and unboxed his treasures with a smile. They included RCMP pins and keychains, a flag, a musical ride photograph, and a t-shirt. Pritchard says the video meeting went beyond her expectations. "It's been extraordinary. Everyone has been super nice helping make this boy's dream come true," she says.

Rivera says "thank you very much" to everyone who helped him meet with a Mountie.

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