Page 34 - November 2021
P. 34

Officers gather to celebrate Carlos Yanez Jr. leaving rehab and coming home
Like groupies at a concert, Chicago Police Officers waited outside the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab on Oct. 14 for the rock star to emerge. Or it could have been a crowd creating a runway often formed for the entrance of royalty. Or waiting for Michael Jordan.
Hundreds of Chicago Police Officers dressed in uniforms or the other acceptable attire of the day – the black shirt with the star number 16022 above the man flexing his arms sitting on the Chicago FOP logo and the “CPD Strong” on the back. A sin- gle Chicago Police bagpiper marched out, setting the mood.
And then Carlos Yanez Jr. wheeled out of the facility.
He flashed his emblematic thumbs up that set off a growing roar, and the Mariachi band the FOP brought began to play. A commanding officer then ordered “present arms,” and the sis- ters and brothers gathered held a salute they would not let go of until Junior rolled past.
Escorting Junior were two of his omnipresent bodyguards. His dad, Carlos Sr., piloted the wheelchair. And Chicago Lodge 7 President John Catanzara served as the wingman, helping to navigate this celebration.
Had it not been for the wheelchair, there would have been al- most no way to tell Junior had been shot five times in that Aug. 7 incident that killed his partner, Ella French. He showed the neatly shaved head that so many Chicago Police Officers sport. And when his beloved wife Brenda brought his 3-year-old son CJ to him, Carlos amped up the smile that is worth more than 1,000 words, the most important of which again reminded: “God is not done with me.”
The miraculous wave of recovery crested as Junior left Shir- ley Ryan following two months of inpatient rehab. He rolled
into the next phase of once again being with Brenda and CJ and continuing therapy that has him standing at times, shifting his weight, using his right and left arm and making remarkable progress, given the brutality of his injuries.
In the grand scheme of recovery and rehabilitation, Carlos Sr. cautioned that this day is only one moment in time. But oh, what a moment.
“I was just so happy to see that look on his face that I had not seen for quite some time,” Carlos Sr. disclosed. “He didn’t realize the magnitude of the people. Everybody gave him the thumbs up. He was so overjoyed and overwhelmed. It was pret- ty spectacular, and it was one of the best moments he’s ever had.”
Junior stopped to shake as many hands as possible. He hugged everybody he could get his arms around. He returned the salute. He blew kisses to those he could not get to.

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