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Young officer diagnosed with ALS has special night at Kauffman

Sarah Olsen looks like a teenager, which is a fact she's used grown used to.

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Neal Jones
KANSAS CITY, MO — Sarah Olsen looks like a teenager, which is a fact she's used grown used to.

"I just laugh about it and roll on," she said. "They think I look like an 18-year-old."

However, her looks are deceiving.

The Blue Springs High School grad is actually a nine-year police veteran.

She loves her job. "It's been a blast and experience like no other," she said.

Olsen is also a lifelong Royals fan who's spent countless days at Kauffman Stadium.

"I was out here all the time," she said, smiling. "We'd come out in middle school and high school. Just me and my friend. Our parents would drop us off, and we'd spend our nights out here through the week. Some years we went to 40-plus games."

Along the way, Sarah's got to meet a number of Royals players, including stars like Mike Sweeney and Jon Buck. And, it's at Kauffman Stadium that Sarah's two passions -- Royals baseball and policework -- intersected.

She said, "I'd look at the officers in the dugout and tell my friend, 'That's going to be me one day.'"

However, getting assigned to work at Royals games as a Kansas City police officer is almost impossible. "It's pretty tough," she said. "The guys that do that, they do it for years and years, and why not? It's so much fun!"

During a recent series, though, Sarah got her chance to work a game.

"I'm pretty excited," she said, "A little nervous, but pretty excited."

The moment is bittersweet because the 29-year-old has just recently been diagnosed with A.L.S. "I was first diagnosed on May 24th and then the final diagnosis was on May 31st," she said.

Looking at her, it's hard to believe that the young lady has a fatal disease. "They won't tell you a timeline," Sarah said with a slight smile. "They say the average lifespan after diagnosis is three to five years."

That means that her Royals game will be more than just the culmination of a dream, it will also be the final time she gets to wear her police uniform.

"It'll be real tough tonight after the game, but it's hard to ruin a feeling like this," she said.

Everywhere she looks around Kauffman Stadium brings back a special memory.

"One year we came out to opening day and we were sitting right behind the dugout wearing shirts that said 'Go Royals,' and the next day we were on the cover of the Kansas City Star," she smiles.

Working around her baseball heroes was special, especially when Salvy surprised Sarah with a baseball signed by the entire team. "God bless you," he told her and gave her a hug.

Manager Ned Yost heard about her story and wanted to meet her. He shook her hand and gave her a hug while posing for pictures.

Through it all, Olsen is determined to enjoy the time she has left.

"I've been living it up," she said. "Life is short and it puts a whole new meaning to it when you're given a diagnosis like that."

Her fellow police officers said that she has always had a positive attitude. They said that clearly is coloring her outlook today.

"It's like what I've told everybody," Olsen said, "'Someone, somewhere is going to survive this disease and why can't it be me?'"

There are trips and other great experiences that she planned over the coming months, but her night at Kauffman Stadium will always stand out.

"It was a dream come true," she said. "Love the life you live, and live the life you love."

To Olsen, that isn't just some glib saying; it is a roadmap for the rest of her life.

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