Fire Department, Police Department

No Trick-or-Treaters For Boy With Autism; Hayward Police and Fire Save the Day!

As originally seen on NBC Bay Area

November 1, 2016

This Halloween had the potential to be a huge bummer for one mom and her son when barely any trick-or-treaters knocked on Grandma's door in Hayward.

But after a Facebook post, a text to a friend and some calls to police officers and firefighters in town, 12-year-old Evan Iyemura's Monday evening possibly was one of his best.

"I was a little shocked and overwhelmed and really grateful to my friend who make a call," Evangeline Iyemura said Tuesday. "It really saved the night."

The evening started out pretty peacefully. Evan, who has autism and attends Newark Junior High, and his mom collected candy at the Fremont Hub. And then, when it started raining, both decided to pass out candy at Grandma's house with Evan handing out Tootsie Rolls dressed as Superman.

Evan took the job very seriously, his mother said.

"He put chair right in front of door waiting for people to come," she said. "We only got a handful at best."

She threw up a quick Facebook post about 7 p.m.

"Evan is helping Grandma pass out candy," she wrote. "Sadly we don't have any kids coming. Only 3 kids so far?! If any of you are in Hayward — it would really make Evan's night if you came by so he can give you candy!!"

A short time later, she got a text from a friend: Stockton police officer Jesus Zavala. His son is also on the spectrum of autism, and the two both volunteer for Autism Speaks.

"Give me your address in Hayward," the text read, "and I’ll make sure you get some peeps." He reminded her that he's never let her down before.

By 8 p.m., two Hayward officers knocked on the door. Then another two. Then a lieutenant. And then the piece de resistance: A big shiny firetruck with three firefighters on board. In all, 10 Hayward cops and firefighters showed up at Grandma's house to grab as many chocolate candies as Evan would doll out.

"He was excited," Iyemura said. "But Evan, well, he was focused on giving them candy." He posed with his new friends in blue. "That's a pretty big smile for him," she noted.

Hayward police made a Facebook post of their own. "Well, police officers and firefighters like candy, so we made sure several of Hayward's Finest and Hayward's Bravest came by to say hi to Evan."

Lt. Antonio Puente was one of those fine and brave officers to visit Evan, which he said he got a lot out of as well.

"There wasn't much activity last night when we got the phone call," Puente said Tuesday. "We got a couple of officers, and I was only expecting one or two. But once people heard, some even went on their own. I think we do a lot of good deeds like this. It probably happens more often you think."

As for Iyemura, Halloween has always held a special place in the holiday hierarchy for her.

That's one time during the year that Evan isn't different — everyone is a bit different at Halloween, Iyemura pointed out. And there are rules to follow, such as: knock on door, open bag, receive candy, say thank you, repeat. That structure had always appealed to her son.

"No one looked at him funny," she said. "So I was really bummed when there was no one at the door. I am just so glad a friend answered my prayer."

As for next year, Evan told his mom he's probably going to be either a fireman or a policeman for Halloween.