MISSOULA – It was a California Highway Patrol officer who first inspired a young Robert Kennedy to become a cop.

“We had a friend who was a highway patrolman,” Kennedy said. “I used to sit in the driveway and he’d come by after work and stop his car. I was probably only three or four years old. But he’d stop his car and let me get in and play for a little bit while he visited with my parents. But I remember sitting in a little lawn chair waiting for him to drive up. So that’s what brought me to the love of law enforcement.

He worked his way up the ranks from a detention officer in Great Falls all the way up to Lt. Detective for Missoula County. He’s there to guide people through difficult times.

“It’s nice to be able to see a case all the way through, especially if it’s a child victim or an adult in a partner/family member assault case. You get to see where the case goes, you get to work with the victim and be close to them and help them through the process”

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Family and friends and fellow officers are important to this father of three. It’s that community that’s lining up to save his life.

Robert’s lifelong kidney disease recently accelerated. He found out last spring they’re failing quickly and he needs a transplant.

That’s when people started lining up to see if they’re a match. Co-workers, their children, officers from around the state, family, friends—willing to give him one of their own kidneys. It’s been a humbling and sometimes overwhelming experience.

“How can I ever repay somebody for that? I mean, they’re saving my life. It’s important to my family, my kids”

A recent fundraiser organized by Missoula County Undersheriff Rich Maricelli and his wife Jenn brought people together to raise money and awareness and support for the Kennedy family.

Potential donors are already being tested to see if they’re a match. When doctors find one, they’ll head to Seattle with Robert for the surgery.

After spending a lifetime of service to others, he now knows what that feels like.

“The badge is not just a piece of metal that we wear. It represents a brotherhood that comes together no matter what you need, they’re going to help you and be there for you. We talk about why be in law enforcement? That’s it right there.”

You can learn more about Robert’s journey on his Facebook page called “Robert Kidney Kennedy.” We will keep you updated on his transplant story.

-Jill Valley reporting for MTN

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