What started as a tense moment ended with an unexpected moment of unity, love, and faith.
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It all happened on the side of Interstate 85 in Rowan County, North Carolina. Ashlye V. Wilkerson was behind the wheel, and her mother and two kids were in the backseat. Seated in the passenger seat was Ashlye’s favorite person, her father Anthony “Tony” Geddis.
Ashlye has always been a self-described “daddy’s girl.” Her father was her primary caregiver growing up, and he never missed a sports or school event.
“My father was my favorite person in the world,” she said. “Even in adulthood I would call my father to be my plus-one ticket.”
On this day, Ashlye had just picked her father up from a round of chemotherapy treatments at Duke University Medical Center, when something unexpected happened.
“We heard a siren and saw a blue light coming behind us,” she said.
Tony was feeling poorly as his daughter drove, but when blue lights flashed in the rearview mirror, he still managed to soothe his daughter’s anxiety over being pulled over.
There have been a slew of viral videos showing racial tension during traffic stops. These incidents were on Ashlye’s mind as she pulled over and waited for the White cop to approach her father’s open window.
“We were very mindful of how things can play out,” Ashlye recalled.
She tried to keep an open mind as Trooper Jaret Doty of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol leaned into the car and asked for her license and registration.
Trooper Doty saw right away that Tony seemed to be in pain as he slumped in the passenger seat, yet the man still tried to stick up for his daughter in spite of his discomfort.
“This is my baby girl,” Tony told the cop. “She’s driving me home from a chemo treatment at the cancer center at Duke.”
The fact that Tony defended his daughter in the midst of his pain touched the officer’s heart. He has a daughter of his own, and they too share a close bond.
“I could tell she was a daddy’s girl,” Officer Doty said. “I would do the same for my daughter.”
Not only that, but he and Tony share another common thread: Officer Doty had seen the colostomy bag attached to Tony’s abdomen and knew what it meant. He, too, had to wear a pouch after surgery to remove a portion of his colon due to ulcerative colitis. As he recovered, he vowed to help others going through this sort of illness whenever possible.
“I said that if I could touch one person, or help somebody get through their illness, I would do it,” said Officer Doty.
This vow repeated itself in Officer Doty’s head as he sat in his cruiser, deciding how to proceed. When he came back to the car, he did not issue Ashlye a ticket.
“He asked if he could pray with you,” Ashlye recalled.
Tony said yes.
Ashlye took a photo of the beautiful moment as the two men prayed. When they were finished, the cop pressed a small silver cross into the palm of her father’s hand.
Tony kept it with him every day until be passed away from his colon cancer just two months later.
As she worked through her grief, Ashlye decided to share the photo of Officer Doty and her dad praying on the highway roadside on LinkedIn. She penned such a beautiful and moving tribute to her father that the post went viral, spreading to platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Eventually, the kind action was traced back to Officer Doty, who says he never stopped praying for Tony since their chance meeting.
“This is not about me at all,” he said. “I don’t want any recognition. I didn’t do anything. This man lost his life, and his daughter is honoring him. I want her to be able to honor him the way she wants, and not for something I did.”
In a world filled with division, stories like this remind us that we’re all more alike than we are different. These two lives crossed paths at the perfect time to touch the hearts of many!
Share this story to thank this kind officer for showing us what really matters: Humanity.
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