The following is a transcript of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's radio column for the weekend of May 13, 2016:
Last month in Hot Springs Village, Angela Andrews sent invitations to a birthday party for her son, Toxey. The Mom invited twenty-one of Toxey’s friends to celebrate over a bonfire, hot dogs, cake and ice cream. This was a big day. Toxey was turning ten years old.
On the day of the party, however, Toxey was crestfallen when none of his friends arrived. According to his mother, the ten-year-old was overwhelmed and disappointed, saying, “I just wanted people to come.”
Two days later, Toxey found that he had friends he had yet to even meet who were eager to celebrate his birthday.
After learning of the unattended party through Facebook, five Arkansas State Troopers exhibited extraordinary initiative and compassion by throwing Toxey his very own birthday celebration. With the permission of Toxey’s mother, five state troopers named Corporal David Forthman, Troopers Kyle Sheldon, Tim Callison, Brandon Cook and Terry Sawyer surprised Toxey at his home, bringing along presents, a birthday cake, and even a K-9 named Rhino. Together, the troopers ate cake, played basketball, and taught the ten-year-old how to activate the lights and sirens in the troopers’ vehicles.
Having experienced one of his best birthdays yet, Toxey said that he was so happy, he cried. He hopes that one day, he too will become an Arkansas State Trooper.
The efforts of these five troopers to care for a member of the community when they had no official obligation to do so exhibit leadership, caring and policing at its finest. The story of Toxey’s birthday surprise has traveled all over the world, eliciting responses from people in Taiwan, France, Malaysia, Germany, Hong Kong, Poland and Tanzania, as well as hundreds of responses from across the United States. One man from Sweden sent a letter to the Arkansas State Police Department saying, “I will definitely make a stop in Arkansas next time I am back in the USA—seems to be a nice and friendly state.”
Next week our state joins in observing National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day, recognizing those who work to protect our citizens and commemorating the service and sacrifice of over 20,000 United States law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Of these, 283 were killed while serving in Arkansas. Whether police officers, state troopers, or correctional officers, these brave men and women help keep us safe and they daily put themselves in harms way. Many times, their work goes unrecognized and underappreciated.
Now, more than ever before, it is the call of law enforcement to not only protect their community but to go beyond what is required and show kindness in many different ways to the community they serve. I am proud that Arkansas law enforcement officers demonstrate that leadership, respect and initiative every day, even to the point of celebrating the birthday of a ten-year-old boy from Hot Springs Village.
Our officers do so much more than their normal responsibilities, and they demonstrate to the world what Arkansans are like.
As governor, I thank those who work to preserve public safety and protect our citizens. I appreciate your service and your commitment to our communities and to our state. Because of your hard work and dedication, the world is able to see that superheroes do exist—right in the state of Arkansas.