NANCHANG, Jan. 11 -- A nine-year-old Chinese boy who has battled a rare muscle disease on Saturday realized his dream of being a policeman in a kidnap case simulated by local police and residents.
Zou Junyi, diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in Xinyu City, east China's Jiangxi Province, received the award of "courageous policeman" from Mayor Cong Wenjing after the young boy, wearing a tailored police uniform, helped subdue two "kidnappers" and save three "hostages" played by citizen volunteers.
On Saturday, it was arranged for wheelchair-bound Zou to direct traffic, watch police drills, and visit the command center, where he was surprised to receive a call about the kidnap case.
He and other special police were sent to deal with the case at the scene.
There, 23-year-old policewoman Liu Jinfeng pushed Zou in his wheelchair to approach the "kidnappers" on the pretext of delivering bottle water. Liu was able to kick away the dagger in a kidnapper's hand, and catch him. The other "criminal" was also caught later by other police.
Inspired by netizens, the project was jointly initiated by the publicity department of the Xinyu City Committee of the Communist Party of China and the city's public security bureau.
Before the simulation, more than 200 people had signed up, offering to play kidnappers and hostages for the boy. Finally, five of them have been selected as the actors in the performance.
Policeman Liu Yi, who played one of the kidnappers in the simulation, said he and his colleague Liu Jinfeng practiced the episode of seizing the kidnappers many times during the past week.
The local police also informed residents and vendors at the scene where the event was arranged and told them not to panic.
Huang Wenhui, head of the public security bureau, said the bureau had mobilized almost all police staff to help with Zou's special day out.
"The Chinese dream can only be realized if everybody's dream comes true," said Huang.
Muscular dystrophy is a skeletal muscle disorder leading to loss of strength muscle wasting and disability. Zou is currently only able to move by crawling on his knees.
Zou's mother Chen Qingmei said, "He has dreamed of becoming a policeman since he was a child. I am very grateful for all the things people did for him."
Both of Zou's parents are migrant workers with low incomes. The monthly income of the family only adds up to around 5,000 yuan (820 U.S. dollars). They can hardly make ends meet as they have already spent 600,000 yuan on the treatment of Zou's disease.
"Though Zou suffered from the disease, he studies hard and exerts every effort to finish his homework," said He Jianjun, his teacher.
Zou's story was widely spread on the Internet. People both from home and abroad hoped to extend a hand to him.
"An overseas Chinese woman, surnamed Wang, who is living in Japan called me and said she wanted to help us," Chen said. "With the help of so many people and the whole society, I believe he will recover and realize his dream of being a policeman."
In November 2013, residents of the U.S. city of San Francisco arranged a similar event for a five-year-old boy who celebrated his win against cancer, to help him realize the dream of becoming a "Bat Kid" for a day.