MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. --Seven-year-old Darien Hoefling was sworn in Thursday as an honorary officer of the Mount Holly Township Police Department as a way to say thank you to the special kid.
Last summer, "Deej," as he's known, was diagnosed with a brain tumor requiring two emergency surgeries. While recovering at home, he made personalized key chains for every one of Mount Holly's police officers, whom he thinks are superheroes.
"When he came to the police station to give us these key chains I was just in awe. Like he's unbelievable. I had to meet him immediately," said Mount Holly Township Police Officer Debbie Brewer. "Once I met him, I knew why everybody loved him so much."
Deej likes visiting with the men and women in blue, who wore superhero shirts under their uniforms in his honor and posed for pictures.
Deej tells us now that he is a police officer he is going to, "keep Mount Holly safe, too."
Between the surgeries and all the health problems he's had and the way he's handled it, the police officers think Deej is the real superhero.
"He's very outgoing, and that impressed us. He's almost irrepressible in his attitude," said Mount Holly Township Police Chief Tom Mastrangelo.
"He's the real hero here. To be able to get through something like that is just amazing," said Mount Holly Township Police Spc. Ofc. David Fisher.
Deej wears a cape that reads, "Super Darien 1, Brain Tumor 0." He is now legally blind, but the first-grader still manages to make the honor roll at school.
His dad marvels at his ability to adapt.
"I want to be like him. It's the only way to put it," said Kyle Hoefling, Deej's father. "I always wanted to be his hero, but he's now become mine."
After his swearing-in, Deej had a pizza party with the officers and is selling those homemade key chains on Facebook, with half the proceeds going to charities that have helped him.