Pinellas HERO Mentor Program launched for sick kids

St Pete PD Chief Holloway with 16 YO Zavonte. He has sickle cell anemia.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL . (WFLA)— Designed to give children battling chronic illnesses both a mentor and a friend, a new partnership has launched between All Children’s Hospital and the St. Petersburg Police Department.

The HERO program pairs a law enforcement officer with a school age child who is being treated at All Children’s Hospital for a chronic illness, like sickle cell anemia or kidney disease.

Juggling homework and class projects on top of intensive, time-consuming treatment can be tough and that’s where the mentors step in, helping out with everything from school work to life lessons.

The program was started after staff members noticed some of their regular patients needed a little motivation in the classroom.

“They needed a cheerleader, they needed somebody to boost them up and tell them that they can move forward, they can accomplish this. They really needed a hero,” said Alicia Riggs of All Children’s Hospital.

To date, more than 20 officers at the St. Petersburg Police Department have signed up to volunteer their time as mentors. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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