They say every dog has its day. And, at least for one day, a girl who loves dogs had hers, too.
Local law enforcement surprised Beyer junior and aspiring K-9 officer Baylie Hankins with the ride along — and fly along — of her dreams Friday. The 16-year-old was treated to a full day of activities, including flying on a sheriff’s department helicopter and the chance to meet more than two dozen police dogs.
Baylie has long dreamed of becoming a police officer, specifically a K-9 handler because of her love of dogs. But then last October, the Beyer cheerleader was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, a type of cancer that attacks the white blood cells and body’s immune system. Since then, she has been out of school doing independent study while undergoing chemotherapy.
At the same time Hankins’ mother, Season Newell, has been battling two types of cancer — melanoma and thyroid cancer. Newell, a single mom who is also raising Baylie’s three brothers, is a former EMT who now works in pediatrics for the Stanislaus Health Services Agency.
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Family friend Teresa Mahnke contacted one of her friends, California Highway Patrol K-9 officer Matt Fowles, to set up a ride-along for Baylie to help lift the family’s spirits. He, in turn, reached out to other K-9 officers in the region and other departments across the state, country and beyond
“After hearing that backstory about her struggles and what she is fighting through every day and her family’s struggles and what they’re fighting through every day, I couldn’t just give her a ride-along,” Fowles said. “I wanted to make it a lot more special for her. I wanted to make it a whole entire day for her and to see everything that we do.”
The area CHP and Stanislaus Sheriff’s Department partnered to make a special day for Baylie that started as a simple ride-along but turned into full day of activities. They included a rally at Beyer with the cheerleading squads and players from the football and basketball teams, a helicopter flight, meet-and-greet with close to 30 K-9 units, ride with the mounted patrol on horseback, SWAT and bomb squad demonstration and a chance to pilot a drone.
“I was overwhelmed. It’s amazing that all of them came out to be here and do this,” Baylie said.
The Modesto teenager spends her spare time watching “Cops” and “Live PD,” two reality shows that follow law enforcement officers at work. But it’s the K-9 units that have her heart because, as she says, “dogs make everything better.”
Some of the day’s events were a surprise to even Newell, who said the support they’re received has been more than they could have ever imagined. She said Baylie has kept a positive attitude through her treatment and her tumors have begun to shrink. She will finish her chemotherapy in April.
“I always say little kids who are diagnosed with cancer get all the attention, because they’re so cute of course. But teens sometimes get left out,” Newell said. “To see the community come together for this and for her is just the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.”
The day started with around 100 Beyer students, friends and teammates rallying for her with homemade signs of encouragement that included her hashtags #BaileyStrong and #BaileysArmy. A CHP helicopter also flew onto the field. Then she was driven to the Modesto Airport, where she boarded the sheriff’s helicopter and was given a brief tour of the city before touching down at the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office Regional Training Center. There close to 30 K-9 police vehicles and officers from a dozen agencies including all of the local departments and as far afield as Petaluma and Sacramento were waiting to greet here.
Stanislaus sheriff’s deputy Adam Stovall, who is with the K-9 unit, also helped arrange the event and said when he reached out to the various departments they were happy to help.
“The K-9 community, we always support each other,” he said. “We always help each other at events.”
Bailey left with well over 100 patches from K-9 units across the country and dozens of challenge coins including one from Marine One which flies with the President of the United States. A golf cart had to tote around her swag that included T-shirts, hats and stuffed K-9 toys.
Fowles said he was moved by Baylie’s strength to go above and beyond for her and her family.
“Law enforcement is a very tough field right now to go into,” he said. “So seeing someone young wanting to go into it is inspiring. It inspires me every day to go out there and do my job.”
After a full day of activities, including the helicopter ride which she joked she was “terrified” at first to go on, Baylie said the experience was amazing. And to top it all off she even got a video greeting and well wishes from one of her favorite sports star, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
So how does she feel about going into law enforcement after a day immersed with them?
“I am so in, yeah,” she said.
To help out the family, you can go to Bailey’s GoFundMe page.