It had been a long and emotional day for six police officers who decided to stop at a McDonald’s for dinner after going to the funeral of their friend, Kentucky State Trooper Joseph Ponder, who was gunned down during a traffic stop earlier in September.
But as the officers — five Kentucky troopers and one Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper — finished their meals, a five-year-old girl approached their table with a tray of McDonald’s sundaes and thanked the men for protecting her and her family.
Sarah Yockey, Isabella’s mother, told WDRB that her daughter had asked if she could use her allowance money to treat the officers to ice cream when she saw them.
“She used her allowance she earned this past week to put smiles on their faces,” Yockey said. “She said, ‘Their friend died, and it’s not fair because he has a family too.’”
Kentucky State Police trooper Eric Homan said that he and his friends had left their town around 5:30 a.m. in order to make it to the funeral on time on September 18. None of the men had eaten all day when they decided to stop at the McDonald’s around 6:15 p.m.
“We were finishing up eating and Isabella comes out of no where and she’s holding a tray of ice cream sundaes,” Homan said. “She stepped right in between us all without fear and was so proud to thank us for protecting her and her family. [It] was a long day, and after a long week we were physically and emotionally drained. Her gifts of ice cream and her words of encouragement was more than a treat for our stomachs. It lifted our spirits.”
Yockey took a picture of Isabella and the police officers, and she and Homan posted it to Facebook, accompanied by some kind words.
Yockey wrote on her post, “Today Isabella-Marie and I met some amazing men in uniform. These state troopers protect us on a day-to-day basis and risk their lives for my family and yours. The least we can do are small things such as buying them ice cream or a simple ‘Thank You.’ Their love and support for the kind act my daughter showed today is amazing. Thank you so much for putting a smile on my daughter’s face.”
Homan and Yockey’s posts had nearly 4,000 shares combined by Sunday.
“Relief comes in all different shapes and sizes,” Homan wrote in the post, adding that Isabella is “living proof of what makes coming to work everyday worth it.”
When Yockey showed Isabella Homan’s post, the 5-year-old responded, “Awe, Mommy they love me!” The officers thanked the little girl, and she said, “Your welcome! Thank you for taking care of me,” according to her mother’s Facebook responses.
Homan said the officers all agreed to “pay it forward” when they return to their communities to serve the public.
As for Isabella, she has formed a life-long bond with the officers and she told her mother that she hopes to invite them to her birthday party in March, according to WDRB.
“I truly can not thank them enough for the impact they had on my daughter,” Yockey said.