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Deputy gets badge from officer who saved her as a baby


By Karen Morfitt

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    EL PASO COUNTY, Colorado (KCNC) — Earning a badge and meeting the man who saved her life, are two things Natalie Young wanted for as long as she could remember.

“I just knew from a very young age that I wanted to help people like he helped me,” she said.

In one day, she got both.

“I knew the mom was using meth, she showed all kinds of signs of drug use. The baby, Natalie, was underweight and the house was torn up,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Valdivia with the Escondido Police Department in Southern California.

That was more than twenty years ago but Valdivia says he remembers it clearly.

As a young cop, that was the first time he made the decision to remove a child from their home.

“You hope there are no gaps in the system and you hope everything works the way it’s supposed to,” Valdivia said.

“We got a phone call just before Christmas, that they had a very sick, very disabled baby,” Shelley Young said.

Young and her husband adopted Natalie Young, who they learned had been exposed to drugs even before she was born.

“We were told things like, ‘she would never hear, she would never run, she would always be in a wheelchair,'” Shelley Young said.

Emotionally, she says there were struggles, but physically, Natalie Young surprised everyone.

“Natalie fought through it and she made a choice, you know, to set her moral compass to be good and to help others,” she said.

“I wanted him to just know that I was doing good and I was ok,” Natalie Young said, of Valdivia.

It wasn’t until her graduation from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Academy that Natalie Young would finally meet the man that changed her life.

Valdivia not only came to Colorado to be there, but he was also the one to pin her badge.

“It was a huge honor,” he said.

“He is going to be there when I need it and I am very excited about that,” Natalie Young said.

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