Big Apple visitor gives Australian facility resident 'best' day of her life

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The Brighter Side
The Brighter Side

A walk through the halls of her Australian nursing home turned into the best day of Berenice Benson's life when she found herself escorted by one of New York City's finest.

The 85-year-old dementia patient never married or had kids. Her true love may have been travel. She had seen many of Europe's best cities, but always looked wistfully at the New York skyline that decorated an elevator inside her Uniting Mirinjani​ senior care facility in Canberra.

She never made it to the Big Apple or fulfilled her dream of meeting an NYPD officer. That was until last week, when Det. Howard Shank walked out of that elevator in full dress uniform.

 The Canberra Times captured images of Benson's awestruck face and the moments that followed as Shank embraced her and allowed her to try on his navy blue cap.

The surprise was two years in the making. Jo Sumner, the facility's coordinator of leisure and wellness, reached out to a  friend on the Australian federal police force, who in turn contacted officials in New York.

Detective Shank happened to be in Sydney when the request came in and agreed to drive to the capital for a visit.

"I lost my father to Alzheimer's, so being here, [it's] a bit emotional but I've seen a lot and done a lot and this is one of the better moments in my career," Shank said.

For her part, Benson proclaimed it the “best day of my life” and said she felt 20 years old again after the visit.

To help reconnect with the joy she felt during her New York moment, Shank left behind a scarf emblazoned with the NYPD logo.