Fathers and sons bond in all kinds of ways. Gerald Philbrook, 4, and his dad, Peter, bonded over the restoration of a gator tractor they found abandoned on the side of the road one day. The piece was in shambles, laying against a garbage can when they found it in early 2020. The axel was broken, as were the wheels. Gerald talked his dad into taking it home, and they spent their time restoring it, nearly a year of work to complete it. This was their first father and son project, and they were excited to begin their hard-earned fun.
Gerald and Peter enjoyed an abundance of time together, invested in this project, as the onset of the pandemic forced them into isolation. Their hard work paid off, and Gerald was off to the races in early April. The tractor was given finishing touches by way of special stickers; one from Peter’s best friend who passed away last December, and a peace sign sticker from Gerald’s grandmother.
Their excitement was short-lived as the tractor was stolen just two weeks after completion, on the Monday after Easter. Gerald was devastated. Peter took to Facebook in hopes of locating it, offering a reward for the return of the tractor.
Tempe Police Sgt. Andrew Brooks happened upon the post and decided to help. He exhausted his resources in his attempts to retrieve the tractor Gerald had stolen from him. Unfortunately, this was to no avail. Sgt. Brooks and his wife decided that Gerald was going to get his tractor back one way or another. “My wife said to me, ‘Hey you have to take care of this dude. You have to do something,’” said Brooks. He gathered some assistance from the Tempe Officers Association and a local Walmart. Together, they were able to secure a new tractor for Gerald.
Officers answer a family’s prayers by gifting 4 year old Gerald a new Gator after his was stolen a couple weeks ago. Get more info and more pics on our Instagram and Facebook page. @Walmart @ToaAz pic.twitter.com/waG2Ym0xcA
— Tempe Police (@TempePolice) April 24, 2021
While choking back tears, Sgt. Brooks, along with fellow officers, delivered the tractor to Gerald on April 24, less than three weeks after the original tractor was stolen. The new tractor came complete with a custom metal license plate with Gerald’s name on it. Sgt. Brooks went the extra mile and gave him a new peace sign sticker to replace the sentimental one he lost.
“Whoa! That looks totally cooler than my actual other gator,” Gerald exclaimed when Tempe officers delivered his new tractor. The heart-warming video posted by Tempe Police on their Twitter account captures the emotional moment of delivery and the impact this little boy’s story had on Sgt. Brooks.
These days, Gerald can be found cruising around in his new tractor at the local park. “I can go bunny speed and turtle speed,” Gerald said proudly and happily to the local news.
In a world where there is so much chaos, Tempe police officers, especially Sgt. Andrew Brooks, and all involved, are a great reminder that there are still many genuine, kind-hearted people and police officers out there making a positive difference in this world.