Sheriff makes Whitehall boy a 'captain' as he battles cancer

Sheriff makes Whitehall boy a 'captain' as he battles cancer

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FORT EDWARD — The Washington County Sheriff’s Office added a special new officer to its ranks on Monday, a 10-year-old who is teaching seasoned police officers and those around him lessons in courage.

Whitehall resident John Hoague-Rivette will have surgery Tuesday for brain cancer, a diagnosis made last month after weeks of worsening symptoms. The aggressive tumor has derailed the life of an honor roll student and budding athlete as well as those around him, but a group of police officers from around the region gave him a day to remember Monday in the hours before surgeons try to save his life.

John was sworn in as an honorary captain in the Sheriff’s Office during a ceremony attended by dozens of police officers from around the region as well as his classmates, school leaders and community members.

The rank fits him, as he has been captain of his Little League baseball team and is a fan of the Captain America movies. His father, Lucas Hoague, is a state university police officer in Albany, and John has long been a fan of law enforcement, Sheriff Jeff Murphy said.

John’s fifth-grade teacher, Karen Paddock, reached out to the department to suggest a visit to the Sheriff’s Office to cheer him up. Paddock’s daughter, Katie, is a patrol officer for the Sheriff’s Office.

The request was made to Murphy, who said he thought they could do more than a short visit.

So the plan was made to hold a swearing-in ceremony, with a special uniform made for John. Law enforcement agencies from around the region and the Albany area, where John’s father works at SUNY Albany, gathered at the Sheriff’s Office so John could make some good memories the day before surgery.

Members of the department’s Emergency Response Team and police dog handler were on hand, as were State Police, Whitehall Police, SUNY Police and numerous sheriff’s offices.

John, in a wheelchair, was brought on a tour of the department and got to meet canine officer Brucha. Classmates, teachers and Whitehall Elementary School Principal Rich Trowbridge gathered with John to show their support, and enjoy a pizza party after the event. Many wore gray baseball caps with the initials “JHR” on them for him.

“He’s an inspiration to all of us,” Murphy said.

John was diagnosed with a malignant glioma on his brain stem last month, after months of symptoms that started with headaches and worsened to the point where his mobility was affected.

His grandmother, Ginny Rivette, said as recently as February he was playing basketball, but what was believed to be inflammation of an area in his brain was later determined to be a cancerous tumor. Part of it is inoperable, but the hope is that radiation and chemotherapy can eliminate what can’t be surgically removed.

With his father a police officer and grandfather having worked for the Whitehall Police Department, her grandson has always been a big fan of the police, Rivette said. The close-knit Whitehall community has also been great in supporting John and his family, she said.

The past months have been terrifying for the family, but John has kept those around him in good spirits, Rivette said.

“My prognosis is he will be playing baseball again next spring,” she said.

John turns 11 later this month, and on Monday he told reporters he has just one wish:

“I just really want this brain stuff to be over,” he said. “That’s all I want.”

And when it is, he said he wants to go swimming.

A fundraising page to help John’s family with medical bills and other expenses can be found on GoFundMe at


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