Breanna Rodriguez, the community resource officer for the Hillsborough County District V station, always had a generous heart. Her profession is a true calling. She builds bridges between the sheriff’s office and the community, and every year, she looks forward to December, when her office partners with local hospitals and ‘adopts’ families who have fallen on hard times to ensure they have a wonderful holiday.
“We used to take stockings to the hospital every year, but you only saw people for a few seconds. I wanted something a little more personal,” Rodriguez explained.
It was through one of these partnerships and her additional time spent volunteering with Tampa’s 1Voice Foundation that she met Arianna and Paulina Shiver last year.
When Rodriguez met the family, Arianna had recently turned 10, and thankfully her pediatric cancer was in remission. Paulina was working and having difficulty balancing everything as she worried about Arianna’s health along with the myriad of things that come with just being a working mom.
Rodriguez ensured Arianna and her brother had presents and took care of Christmas, but something even more beautiful blossomed: a real relationship with the Shiver family.
Officer Rodriguez smiled when she reflected and said, “The fact that we’ve created such a great bond; it’s seemed pretty destined. We all just get along so much.”
Rodriguez is now a regular family friend, and Arianna recently surprised her in a big way. The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation puts on an annual event called Fashion Funds the Cure, which combines a runway fashion show with food, cocktails and a silent auction.
As part of the gala, pediatric cancer patients participate in the Dream Walk where they walk the runway with their heroes. If you have not already guessed, Rodriguez is Arianna’s hero. Now, Arianna wants to be a police officer one day.
This year’s fundraiser took place at Raymond James Stadium, but because of COVID-19, Arianna could not participate in person. They knew they needed an alternative, and together decided Rodriguez would walk the evening of the show and they would play a recording of Arianna and her walking together in the background. Arianna dressed in SWAT gear and walked the red carpet in the District V office side by side with her hero.
Rodriguez smiled and said, “I felt humbled that she wanted me to do it and that she looked up to me in that way. It’s something I never expected.” That moment in the office with Arianna trumped the big night at the stadium.
Rodriguez did the walk solo on November 13 with her husband and parents cheering her on and got tears in her eyes as local anchor and MC Gayle Guyardo told Arianna’s story. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to have Arianna by her side.
She encouraged other local residents to think about their impact on the community: “Anything where you take a little bit of stress off of someone’s life. Seeing their gratitude and their appreciation, it makes it all worth it. You just see the impact you can make with just one little act.”