Photograph of 5-year-old’s act of caring goes viral on social media
CEDAR HILL, Texas — For Leland Herron, Tuesday’s lunch at Cedar Hill’s Cancun’s Restaurant looked to be like any other day. Herron, who lives in Rockett, was taking his lunch break with fellow Cedar Hill Marshal Jack Wallace.
What the two law enforcement officers didn’t expect was a small prayer request by a small child, captured in a single photo, to touch the hearts of thousands on Facebook. From Cedar Hill, to Kanses City, Missouri, to even Alaska, the image of a 5-year-old holding the hands of two officers has been shared more than 5,450 times and reacted to by more than 12,000 people as of press time Thursday on the Cedar Hill Police Department’s website.
“We saw two little girls sitting with their mom at the restaurant,” said Herron, also a Cedar Hill Marshal. “I walked over and gave each of the little girls a small Junior Marshal sticker that each one could wear. We always keep a handful with us, and we’ll hand them out to kids just as a positive way of making contact with the public.”
While Herron and Wallace waited for the waitress to take their order, they heard 5-year-old Chloe, one of the two girls, tell her mother that she wanted to pray over their family’s food.
“I looked at Jack and said, ‘Now isn’t that great?’” Herron said.
A few minutes later, the father walked in and sat with his family.
“Another few minutes go by, and suddenly here comes little 5-year-old Chloe, right up to our table,” said Herron. “Our food hadn’t arrived yet, but she reached out and took our hands and asked if she could pray with us.”
For both Herron, who has been with the Cedar Hill police department and a city marshal for 15 years, and for Wallace, a 36-year veteran, it came as a complete shock.
“I’ve never had anybody come up and pray for us like that,” said Herron. “That’s why it was such a big deal for us. It really touched us. She prayed for our food and prayed for our safety. I’m sure she asked her parents if she could come over and pray with us. Her dad got up and snapped a photo with his cell phone. It wasn’t posed. It wasn’t staged. It’s just one of those magic moments.”
Herron’s daughter Miranda was a standout Waxahachie High School softball player who graduated in 2015 and played for Abilene Christian University this year. Herron’s
son Marshall was a four-year starter for the WHS Indians baseball team. He graduated in 2013 and is playing ball for Houston Baptist University.
“With kids that played sports, my wife Cindy and I have had some proud moments as parents. But you know, if that were my kid, I can’t imagine how proud her parents are,” said Herron. “For her to have the courage to get up and hold two strangers’ hands, much less strangers in uniform, say a sweet prayer for our safety — I don’t know. I’ve never had anything like that happen. It touched me more than I was really prepared for. I think if I had seen a picture like that somewhere, I would think it was really neat, but to know that it was so important to that 5-year-old to come pray with us — just to feel the trust in her small hands — I’ll be honest with you, it’s hard to describe.”
Comments on Facebook back up Herron’s emotions. Missouri resident John Pickett posted:
“I have no idea where this place is, I live in Kansas City, Missouri. This story brought tears to my table here at a local restaurant. Makes me want to pack up & move to your town. She is a great ambassador for your town.”
The department’s Facebook page manager responded with: “Wow! Thanks for sharing... Kindness and compassion have no jurisdictional boundaries... (FYI, we’re in the Dallas area..).”
And similar comments followed.
After those special minutes, Herron and Wallace spent a few more talking to the family. Then, it was back to work. As they walked out of the restaurant, they looked at each other, still thinking about Chloe and her prayer.
Shared and commented on thousands of times since Tuesday, Chloe has been hailed as Cedar Hill’s most outstanding ambassador while Herron and Wallace are being called heroes.
Chloe’s father Jared Chenevert comment in a Facebook post summed up the moment well.
“We can’t thank you enough for all the wonderful comments about our daughter. The real thanks goes to the officers, who took the time out of their busy day to bless our daughters, Chloe and Clarke,” the comment read. “The appreciation goes both ways, and we thank you and your fellow officers for your service, because it extends beyond protection, and for two little girls it’s connecting them with real life heroes.”
For Herron, just another day quickly turned into the best day ever for a lot of people.
“Jack and I agreed that while we had both been in law enforcement for a long time, we never had anything like that happen to us,” said Herron. “And in this business, that’s not an easy thing to say.”