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By Mike Corradino
Can one person really make a difference?

Ask the many people whose lives have been affected by retiring Clermont Police Lt. Rene Castro. The Clermont City Center was filled with people there to honor and pay respects to a longtime friend, mentor and co-worker.

A steady stream of Castro supporters lined up to share stories about how he has helped them.

Castro came to Clermont while working as a patrol officer in Brockville, Florida. While driving from work to his home in Pine Hills east of Clermont, Castro's car broke down. The Clermont Police stepped in and made sure that Castro arrived home safely.

But it also created a special bond that caused Clermont to offer the young officer a job which he accepted becoming the city's and county's first Hispanic police officer.

"Lt. Castro has worked in every department, but truly found his calling when he joined and later led the Community Policing unit," Police Chief Charles Broadway told the audience.

Several young men told how Castro always seemed to know when they got into mischief as teenagers and challenged them to do better Today, several are police officers and sheriff's deputies.

One woman tearfully shared how she had been a homeless, single mother who had her hands full with three teen-age sons. Castro not only told her that they were now part of his family. He offered to open his home and helped her gain employment. Today, she works in law enforcement.

"Small wonder he is known around town as Superman," said Broadway.

In his Superman cape, Castro was a constant figure when it came to fundraising for Special Olympics, the department's signature charity. Castro told the audience why it was so near and dear to his heart adding he has a niece that is part of the program.

"These acts of kindness, and the many times the champion bodybuilder-officer faced danger, came at a price," added Broadway. There were many birthday parties, Christmas mornings and school plays of his own children that he missed while protecting and serving others."

But if you ask his children, they say they gained something else in return. They came up to the microphone that night to let the 200 people in attendance know, they had grown up with an extraordinary role model to guide them.

"No one would have suspected 25 years ago, when they passed the broken down car, that Superman had just arrived," Broadway concluded.

Clermont's own Superman retires from the city's
police force after 25 influential years on the job
Rene Castro
Rene Castro, a/k/a Superman, retired as a lieutenant from the Clermont Police department after 25 years. Friends and admirers gave him the name for all the work he has done as a positive influence in the community. (Photo by Mike Corradino)
Rene Castro
Rene Castro
Rene Castro
Rene Castro
Rene Castro
Castro leads law enforcement officers during their Torch Run for Special Olympics, one of his personal causes. He's shown here with his custom painted car, "Flying Law," complete with Superman cape. He took a moment to pose with Eco, the City of Clermont's new mascot. He is shown at his retirement party with Deputy Chief Shelli Walters, Chief Charles Broadway, and Captain Mike McMaster. (Photos by Mike Corradino)
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