Joe Obechina stepped out of his house in Lakewood to a hero's welcome of police officers eagerly waiting for his appearance. Obechina, with a cane helping him stand, made his way through his driveway …
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Joe Obechina stepped out of his house in Lakewood to a hero's welcome of police officers eagerly waiting for his appearance. Obechina, with a cane helping him stand, made his way through his driveway as he greeted the officers.
He spoke to different officers, posed for photos and made his way back inside his house to rest for a moment. Obechina, a former officer who spent 30 years with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and five years with the Marine Corps, has seen his health and energy drastically decrease as he battles multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that causes low blood counts, bone and calcium problems, infections and kidney problems, according to the American Cancer Society.
That didn't matter to Obechina the day police officers were waiting for him outside his house. He was getting ready to spend a weekend at Steamboat Springs with his family — a place he has loved to go to since his childhood days when he would go hunting and fishing.
Obechina got a chance to go up to Steamboat Springs for what might be a final time thanks to help from the Jefferson County Sherriff's Office and the Defenders Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club. The Jefferson County Sherriff's Office paid for Obechina and his family to go up Steamboat Springs while the motorcycle club paid for his hotel room. At least 10 police agencies escorted and lined the route form Obechina and his family up to Steamboat Springs.
“I never thought I'd get a chance to go up there. They fulfilled a dream of mine to go back up there and see the town at least one more time before my parting,” Obechina said.
Mark Miller, a deputy for the Jefferson County Sherriff's Office, was assigned to put together the police escort. Miller started in law enforcement only months after Obechina did, and the two have been close friends ever since then.
“Aside from work and from everything, he's like family. The finality of everything, and the fact that this was one of his final wishes … I was just extremely proud to have the ability to be able to do something like that for him,” Miller said.
Annette Smoker, a member of the Defenders Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, has known Obechinia since their childhood. Smoker helped raise money for the hotel room, and she said she was filled with joy when she saw Obechina see the officers outside of his house.
“He's a hero, and I want people to know how much blood, sweat and tears he gave to the community. I'm proud to be his friend,” Smoker said.
Obechina said his mother, children and grandchildren spent the weekend in Steamboat Springs with him. He emphasized how grateful he was to be able to spend time with his family, because they don't get to be around each other all the time.
“I spent a lifetime serving my community and doing what is right. It meant everything to me to serve,” Obechina said.
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