In spite of a rare condition, Edward Vawter inspires beyond the local community
By Taylor Shillam
At 12 years old, Edward Vawter has undergone over 20 surgeries and has achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a deputy.
Edward has Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a rare congenital condition affecting the development of the joints, bones and muscle, particularly in the mouth, face, hands and feet. The condition can often restrict movement and affect a child's physical development.
Through everything Edward has experienced, including numerous surgeries and the use of a walker, he is often described as strong, positive and vibrant. Edward often credits prayer and a relationship with God as his source of strength and courage.
He also has a strong local support system at the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, who have joined him in prayer and have made him a Special Deputy in a special moment at a local law enforcement gathering held at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
“In April, Edward Vawter’s 12th birthday wish was to meet Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris. The Sheriff arrived at the birthday party to surprise him, and he presented him with a lapel pin,” the Kootenai County Sheriff’s office reported. “That meant so much to Edward because he has always wanted to be a police officer!”
Edward remained close with the sheriff, creating a relationship of ongoing support. The office reported that before his spinal fusion surgery in Colorado in the summer of 2023, Edward paid them a visit and was surrounded in prayer.
Sheriff Norris has described Edward as part of their extended family, impressed by his constant display of courage and positive energy amidst challenging circumstances.
Also known as “whistling face syndrome,” Freeman-Sheldon syndrome is often characterized by abnormalities known as contractures, according to the National Library of Medicine, resulting from the permanent tightening of muscles, skin, tendons and surrounding tissues. It can affect speech, swallowing, spinal curvature and more.
Edward has shared that his physical disabilities have often kept him from joining in play or participating in many of the activities enjoyed by children his age. Even still, he remains an inspiring source of faith and courage to those across all ages.
Edward’s positivity reached beyond Kootenai County when he visited Denver for his spinal fusion surgery. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office supported Edward through his recovery, receiving a special thank you from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office on social media.
“Since Edward is in Colorado, we reached out to our friends at the Arapahoe Sheriff’s Office, who were more than happy to help us support Edward through his recovery,” the Kootenai County Sheriff’s office wrote. “... the Arapahoe Sheriff’s Office Patrol Captain Chris Gulli visited Edward at the Children’s hospital in Aurora. The two spent time together, and then Edward received a K-9 shirt, a K-9 stuffed dog and many other gifts.”
They shared that the surprise visit really helped Edward get through a tough day. With the support of his community, family and faith, Edward is sure to continue to spread his contagious positivity across Kootenai County and beyond. For Edward Vawter, Special Deputy is just the beginning.