Broderick Shymkiw’s guitar was old and broken in. Sometimes he’d play with just three strings. Sometimes, his guitar didn’t have strings at all. A Wheat Ridge police officer took notice and brought Shymkiw a new one.

Shymkiw, 14, has autism. He’s the eldest of four, all boys, and he loves to play the guitar. Officer John Bowman met Shymkiw a while back and noticed the boy’s old guitar. 

“I understand how therapeutic an acoustic guitar can be,” said Bowman, who also plays guitar. “He pulled his guitar out, and I immediately noticed it didn’t have any strings.”

Shymkiw taught himself how to play guitar. A wall in his home is completely covered with pages of guitar chords.

“He’s always modifying and changing his guitars,” said Jessica Shymkiw, Broderick’s mom. “It is really hard to keep up on. He’s always riding [the strings] hard. And so he breaks strings.”

Those strings are important. But he played and taught himself without a full set. Buying new ones wasn’t necessarily in the budget for the Shymkiws. He even kept what strings he had fastened to the guitar with Phillips head screws.

“I felt like if I had the ability to put this kid into a functional full size guitar, that it would be a huge benefit to him,” said Bowman.


Officer Bowman raised some money, talked to a manager at Guitar Center, and Wednesday, he brought Shymkiw his brand new instrument.

“His expression, I mean, my heart was full of joy,” said Alexander Shymkiw, Broderick’s brother. “I literally wanted to tear up…It was nice, and I’ve never seen anyone do something that nice.”

Shymkiw played everyone some Hotel California before he went inside. And he quickly thanked Officer Bowman for the gift he’ll never stop playing.

© 2017 KUSA-TV