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Boy collects police and fire department patches from around the world

By Maria Burak, C&G Staff Writer

While most 8-year old boys want to be like their favorite action hero or athlete, Eastpointe resident Andy Nobie lives vicariously through the many firefighters and police officers who have been so kind to him over the years.

Andy, who suffers from a brain disorder, kidney disease and a lung disease similar to emphysema. has been on a quest to collect patches from poice and fire departments from around the world.

With the help of his mom, Laurie Noble, Andy has collected nearly 120 patches from fire and police departments and also from ambulance drivers. Andy's mom hopes to help her son collect 1,000 patches.

Most of the patches are from Michigan cities and townships, yet Andy has also received some from out-of-state, plus a special patch from Russia. He's even received several plastic badges, hats, T-shirts and a few helmets from the departments he has visited with his mom. Andy and his mom try to visit a department once a month, depending on how well Andy is feeling.

"The more color and the more detail, the more he likes them," Laurie said.

She sews the patches on Andy's shirts and coats. Since they are filling up quickly, Laurie plans to display of his patches to hang in his room.

To track down the different patches, Andy and his mom have visited different fire departments around the state. Andy's gray-colored eyes light up every time he hangs out with the firefighters and police officers. Andy, whose favorite television show is "Cops," becomes especially excited when he gets to ride in a police car or a fire truck.

"Usually his first reaction is clapping. He's all smiles when he gets into one of the vehicles," Laurie said. "He likes to pretend he's driving and hs is shown how to push [the different] buttons."

Laurie said the visits give Andy the social aspect of life he misses out on because of his condition. "Since he can't go to school, he needs a way to be sociable."

The patch collection wasn't something Andy or his mom had planned. Laurie said it first began when Andy received a couple of patches which she sewed on one of his shirts.

"He wanted to wear it all the time," she said. Andy began receiving more and more patches, and the idea for a collection took off from these.

Despite the illnesses Andy has been faced with, he remains a delightful young boy who loves to bowl, listen to music and play with his siblings.

"He's very, very social and very much a people person," his mom said. "He's taught me patience and he's lots of fun. He's very lovable and I love to watch him play."

Andy has lived much longer than expected, and has brought a great deal of joy to those around him, according to his mom.

"The most important thing for me is to see him happy," Laurie said.

If you would like to help Andy reach his goal, send a patch or patches to: Andy Noble 29045 Dembs, Roseville, Mich. 48066.


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