A ‘trooper’ gets recognized

Local girl honored for her fighting spirit and kind heart

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Honorary Trooper Hallie Witte, 9, of Little Hocking, reconnects with Bart, and his K-9 handler Trooper Brian Stackey Friday at the Marietta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Sharing a prayer with officers of the Marietta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Friday, Hallie Witte, 8, of Little Hocking, became an honorary trooper, recognized for her fighting spirit and kind heart.

“I had no idea we were coming here, my mom just told me we needed to take a ride,” said Witte.

The soon-to-be-fourth-grader, who is turning 9 on Saturday, has battled severe food allergies all her life, unable to attend public school because of the likelihood of airborne exposure to several allergens.

Peanuts, cashews, soy, beans, pumpkin and squash are but a few of the foods which were once deadly to Witte, but she has spent the last year traveling back and forth to Cincinnati for oral immuno-therapy.

Witte’s mother, Tiffani, said her daughter had to start the therapy with exposure to a single grain of cashew flour and over time has had increased exposure to her allergens, often sending the young body into anaphylaxis.

“They would have to hit her with epinephrine each time they pushed the limit,” said Tiffani. “It’s hard on her, especially every week.”

But to stay positive on treatment days, Hallie has made it her mission to perform random acts of kindness.

Twice, troopers from the patrol have been the recipients.

“She’s really everything that it is to be a trooper,” said Lt. Chris Chesar, commander of the Marietta post. “Not only does she have to travel for this grueling treatment, but she chooses to do it with a smile and to help others. That’s the epitome of being a trooper.”

At the ceremony Friday more than 10 troopers sang “Happy Birthday” to her and gave Witte both a Stetson hat and ball cap, a stuffed animal, T-shirt and stickers. Witte also was allowed to climb inside a K-9 unit vehicle.

The first interaction Witte had with a state trooper was early last year when she tried to provide a gift card for food to an officer. Though the officer had to decline, he did accept a prayer with Witte.

Then later last year Witte came across a K-9 unit wrapping up training in Jackson County.

“She had a lot of questions about what a dog does for the patrol and when he gets to play at home,” said Trooper Brian Stackey, who traveled from the southern Ohio county to Witte’s ceremony Friday. “Bart is good with kids so I brought him out to meet her.”

Witte’s other acts of kindness have included paying for another’s groceries, buying coffee for strangers, collecting food for food pantries and animal shelters and giving out plenty of hugs and prayers.

Tiffani said her daughter had pestered the K-9 trooper with questions on the return trip from Cincinnati, fascinated by the working dog.

“She’s always wanted to be a veterinarian,” said Tiffani. “She rescues animals, even once rescued a chipmunk from a cat. She has a soft spot for them.”

Witte said when she grows up, she hopes to treat dogs just like Bart, and continue serving others just like the troopers she met Friday.

“I love working with animals and learning about them,” she said. “And I love making people smile.”

At a glance

¯ Hallie Witte, 9, of Little Hocking, was named an honorary trooper Friday by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

¯ Witte has performed random acts of kindness every Tuesday on the return journey from intense allergy therapy in Cincinnati for the past year.

¯ Witte has severe allergies to myriad foods including: peanuts, cashews, soy, beans, pumpkin and squash.

Source: Tiffani Witt.