Gaige Mendez's deputy friends made this birthday special

Abraham Galvan | 315-4445 | @destinlogabe |
Gaige Mendez blows out the candles on his birthday cake Saturday at the Village of Baytowne Wharf. [PHOTOS BY ABRAHAM GALVAN/ THE LOG]

SANDESTIN — Walton County sheriff's deputies made it a special 14th birthday for Gaige Mendez on Saturday at the Blast Arcade and Laser Maze at the Village of Baytowne Wharf.

When Gaige’s grandmother, Bettye, was deciding who to invite, she thought of the strong bond Gaige had made with two deputies a couple years back and didn’t hesitate to give them a call.

Gaige is an honest and kind teenager. He also has Asperger’s syndrome, which makes it difficult for him to make friends his own age. The syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that affects one’s ability to communicate and socialize.

“These people (sheriff’s deputies) are very good to us and I’m so proud to have them here,” Bettye said at Gaige's party.

Five deputies and their families came out to show Gaige he is loved.

"We want to let him know that he is important. I really consider him a friend,” School Resource Officer Deputy Jeremy Fisher said.

Fisher made the party a family event by bringing his fiancée, mother and sister.

“I want to see good things in his future,” he said.

When Sgt. Paula Pendleton heard about the party, she made sure to be there even though she doesn't know Gaige.

“He has a great sense of humor and Is very articulate,” she said. “ I just made a new friend today.”

Gaige said he plans to have another birthday party next year and wants all of his deputy friends to join him again.

“This is nice and pretty fun. I will invite them again — that’s if they are available,” he said.