Monongahela teen awaiting transplant surprised by 'superhero' police
Alicia Hruby received an unexpected early birthday gift.
Hruby, 15, of Monongahela is a patient in Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville, where she is awaiting a liver transplant. On Tuesday, she was greeted by Patrolman Scott Bailey, a part-time police officer in Aspinwall and Millvale, and nine officers from local departments who brought her patches and police paraphernalia.
Bailey met Hruby when officers from throughout the area delivered Christmas presents to patients at the hospital in December.
“She was saying she loves the police officers, and she thinks the police are real heroes. We were kind of taken aback by that,” Bailey said.
Hruby didn't want the toys the officers brought. Instead, she wanted the patches from their uniform, which she collects. Bailey said several of the officers gave her their patches, but he wanted to do more.
His wife, Tina, set up a Facebook page, “Alisha's Wishes for Police Patches,” and he sent word out through his police contacts that he was collecting patches for Hruby. Soon, Bailey was getting patches from across the country and around the world. He estimated more than 400 patches had been sent, along with T-shirts, letters, pins, hats and other items. Patches came from as far away as Alaska, Germany and Canada.
Hruby will turn 16 on Monday. The delivery wasn't the only birthday surprise officers had for her. She was sworn in as an honorary officer with the Children's Hospital police.
Hruby said she was surprised by the gifts.
“How can you keep this much a secret?” she asked. “It was probably one of the best 16th birthday presents I could get.”
Her mother, Donna Hruby, said she has had an appreciation for police officers and members of the military since she was young.
“She just loves them,” Hruby said. “She admires them for all the right reasons. She knows what they do every day. She knows that a simple traffic stop could be catastrophic.”
Alicia Hruby said she likes the patches because they can come from all over the world. “Cops and military officers are my superheroes,” she said.
Bailey said he hopes Hruby will inspire people to register as organ donors.
“Nobody at this age should be at a hospital waiting,” Bailey said. “They're young, they should be out enjoying life.”
Tom McGee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.