A simple thank you note highlights the impacts one police officer can have on a person’s life.
“Dear officer Long. Thank you for being basically my second mom. You’ve helped me so much with getting back on track to graduate,” the letter begins.
It’s handwritten on a page of notebook paper.
“Or when I was having a bad day I could vent to you,” it continues.
And it makes one veteran Clearwater Police officer cry every time she reads it.
“You’ve never given up on me and that’s why I cherish you the most," it says.
Cathi Long is the student resource officer at Countryside High School. She’s become a mentor to dozens of students. So well respected, she won SRO of the year for all of Pinellas County.
“I just love to see them grow and mature,” she said.
Braxton Hampton may have literally been her biggest challenge.
“I saw him walking in the hall, he’s one of the tallest kids here. Obviously I’m one of the shorter cops,” she said.
Hampton struggled in life and school.
At one point his grades were so bad he couldn’t play basketball.
He admits he was headed down the wrong path. Then came the tragic death of his older brother.
“It was very tough. I’m still dealing with it now. Trying to get my mom through it. She’s actually crying right now,” said Hampton.
But Braxton is now on the right track. His senior season on the court was his best yet.
And he’s headed to prep school with dreams of college.
He credits his parents and Officer Long.
“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be in the shoes I am in now,” he said.
Then came the assignment from a teacher: Write a letter to someone who you consider a mentor.
Braxton didn’t have to think twice about who it was.
The letter concludes with: “When I walk across that stage I’m going to give you the biggest hug ever because you made this possible for me. I love you Officer Long, Happy Mentor/Teacher Appreciation week. Sincerely,