Mon City girl 'joins' Monongahela Police Department
Alicia Hruby felt right at home late Wednesday, sharing something to eat with her new friends and colleagues in the Monongahela police station.
The teen who was adopted by police officers from across the region – especially by Monongahela police officers Ryan Lenzi and Bill Fusco – was honored to symbolically be a member of the force.
Just weeks after undergoing successful liver transplant surgery, the 16-year-old Monongahela girl was made an honorary member of the city police department during a council meeting Wednesday as dozens of people packed council chambers.
Alicia said her love of the men in blue began early in life.
“We were taught to respect people, but especially people in uniform,” said Alicia, proudly wearing a Monongahela police shirt and a badge made especially for her.
“I always go up to anyone in uniform and say, ‘Thank you for your service.' I want to make them feel good for serving us.
“A lot of kids don't appreciate what they do for us.”
Growing up in Monongahela, Alicia was active in such things as gymnastics, dancing and cheerleading.
But at age 12, she started to become ill, and by 13 she had been diagnosed with several auto-immune disorders. Soon after, she was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, primary biliary cirrhosis and auto-immune hepatitis.
A liver transplant was needed.
Her parents, Donna and Tim Hruby, were involved in the community, active in Transfiguration Church in Monongahela and even helped to raise money for sick children.
“But now we have a sick child,” Donna Hruby said.
At one point, Alicia nearly died, her mother said.
“She has such a sense of humor,” Donna Hruby said. “She said, ‘I faced death and now death owes me.'”
Alicia said the regular visits at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC from Lenzi and Fusco, “meant everything to me because they took time out of their day to be with me.”
On March 8, she received a liver and 10 days later, after leaving the hospital, was welcomed home by dozens of people at Monongahela's Chess Park.
“That was the sweetest 16 possible,” said Hruby, whose birthday is Feb. 23.
Council voted March 11 to name Hruby an honorary member of the police department.
On Wednesday, council made good on the promise by presenting Alicia with a proclamation.
“I tried to keep my emotions in check,” a grinning Alicia said after the meeting.
“This made me feel so special and extra important. This made me feel amazing.”
During the ceremony, Mayor Bob Kepics told Alicia, “Most of all, we're glad to see you doing so well.”
During her recent hospital stay, Alicia received patches from police departments from throughout the region. She thanked police for those keepsakes.
Her family was grateful, but recognized that their daughter's recovery is ongoing.
“We're not going to stop praying,” Tim Hruby said after the meeting. “This is a lifetime thing.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or email@example.com.