Kindness Warrior Eric Piburn named honorary officer cadet

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Eric Pibun captured our hearts back in 2016 when superheroes showed up for his ninth birthday party at Old McMicky's Farm in Odessa, Florida. 

Eric is now 12 and still suffers terminal illnesses, but that's not stopping him from moving forward in life.

Tuesday, he became an honorary member of the St. Petersburg College police academy, joining the graduating class of 29 cadets.

Eric was the special guest among cadets with Largo and St. Petersburg police departments and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, who completed 22 weeks and 790 hours of training.

Sheriff's Deputy Cadet Cameron Churchill said it was a special moment to see Eric share in the excitement with his graduating class.

"I met him for his birthday. We were only a couple weeks in the academy, and it was amazing," said Churchill.

Eric was born with congenital heart defects but his health never stopped his love of people.

"I always thought ‘Wouldn't it be nice if I could come over to the police academy and say hi?' And it's been on the bucket list of mine forever," said Eric Piburn.

This year for his birthday, Eric invited the class of police cadets to his birthday party so he could tell them about his passion for spreading kindness to others.

"[It's] one of those things when you see him right away, he puts a smile on his face. He's got a great attitude about everything," said Churchill.

His generosity meant so much to the graduating cadets that they presented Eric with a certificate, making him an honorary member of their class.

"Today is pretty surreal. We didn't know about this right away," said Randi Piburn, Eric's mother. "He is just a happy, loving child, and so that's just part of his nature to be that way."

It's a nature the graduating cadets say is inspirational and worthy of honor.

"We need positive stuff. We need good stuff," said Eric Piburn.

Eric is known as a kindness warrior, given that title in 2018 by Hands Across the Bay. His goal is to get on the Ellen DeGeneres show because she shares his message of being kind to others.

Last year, Eric started a Facebook page to challenge himself to perform random acts of kindness all over town.