It had been a long and emotional day for six police officers who decided to stop at a fast food restaurant for dinner after paying their respects to the family 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 told WDRB 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."
Homan and his friends took a photo with Isabella that he posted to Facebook. That photo has been shared more than 4,000 times.
"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."
Homan said the officers all agreed to "pay it forward" when they return to their communities to serve the public.
As for Isabella, she told her mother that she hopes to invite the officers 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.