FOREST CITY — Over the holiday break, Cameron Beminio took off for a tattoo shop in Nebraska without an exact design in mind.
All the Belmond-Klemme junior wanted to do was pay homage to his father, and he left the specifics of the art to the tattoo artist. Because he isn't old enough, Beminio couldn't have the tattoo done in Iowa.
His vision for the art was clear, however. He wanted to be able to look at his right arm whenever he felt the urge to remember the sacrifice his father made.
“I didn’t expect it to be this big,” said Beminio, a junior who looks more like an adult than your typical high school junior. “But he did an amazing job.”
Covering his right arm from his elbow to his shoulder is that tattoo that immediately grabs your attention.
It reads: “Sergeant. Des Moines Police. 5030. EOW 11-2-16” with an American flag as the backdrop.
Beminio’s father, Tony, was one of two police officers killed in the line of duty Nov. 2 in ambush-style killings in Des Moines.
In the weeks and months that followed the murder, Beminio has felt an outpouring of support.
It’s been ever-present at his school. It’s been there from police officers from Des Moines who make trips north to watch the younger Beminio compete.
And it’s there from complete strangers, too.
“I’ve had random people come up to me and give me hugs, and they say they’re praying for me,” Beminio said. “That means a lot.
“I do appreciate it. The fact that they support me means a great deal.”
Wrestling has offered Beminio a sense of normalcy, and like he has done throughout his prep career, he’s excelling.
He is already a two-time state qualifier, and on Saturday the 285-pounder rolled to a Top of Iowa Conference championship, improving his record to 29-3.
His father was an accomplished wrestler as well, winning a 1996 state championship at heavyweight for Iowa City West.
Beminio often harkens back to conversations he had with his father about what it takes to be an elite wrestler.
“He was picky, no doubt,” Beminio said. “Everything he said was of course true. ‘You need to get your knees and your head off the mat, and you’ll get pounded if you don’t.’
“And he said I needed to work on my conditioning, and that’s still true.”
Beminio has turned into an easy kid to root for. The story of his father’s death made statewide headlines, and it was without question an event that turned the high school junior’s life upside down.
But even in the darkest days, Beminio and his family have received compassion from all corners of Iowa.
“Sometimes I break down,” he said. “But every time I am down I try to come out a little stronger than before.”
That, he said, is what his father would have wanted.
“A lot of stuff doesn’t distract me like it used to,” Beminio said. “I always feel like he is watching me. I just have to impress him.”