Police agencies across the state are participating in the biennial Chief for a Day program, which is designed to honor and support children facing life-threatening illness. The Sumner Police Department is sponsoring Maci Hughes, a second grade student at Maple Lawn Elementary.
Maci was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011 and since then, she battled alongside her family during a variety of chemotherapy treatments. During the fall of 2013, Maci’s doctors delivered the good news; her cancer is in remission. She now faces the long-haul struggles of healing and returning to a normal life.
Maci’s mother, Jessica Hughes, said the steroid treatments provided the most difficult challenge. They created extreme behavioral consequences, a common side effect of steroidal medications. As time ticks along and the drugs continue leaving her body, Maci is beginning to act more like herself: strong and sensitive to the feelings of other people, Jessica said.
Deputy Chief Jeff Engel described Maci as brave and vibrant.
“Maci has been courageously battling leukemia this past year and is now a healthy and vibrant young girl,” Engel said.
Her favorite subjects are art and history and her favorite colors are pink and purple. The Make a Wish Foundation sent her to Disney World and not surprisingly, she would go back if given the chance to visit anywhere in the world, she said. The palm trees, warm weather and close proximity to Mickey and Minnie Mouse were memories that she cherishes.
Her future plans include playing with Barbies and LEGOs and someday becoming a waitress at Branks BBQ, the Sumner restaurant owned by her family since 1995. She often joins her mother at work and enjoys serving the customers, according to Jessica. Patrons and the rest of the community played a huge part in supporting Maci during her fight.
“Our family, church and friends rallied together to make sure we did not go without,” she said. “(Our landlords) were so compassionate and their gift to us was, for the duration of me not working, they were going to reduce our rent by half. It was such a miracle. We were able to stay in our home and not have the stress of packing up and leaving. We still thank God for them.”
A quote hangs in the kitchen, the words of which embody the strength and hope Maci’s family requires to make it through this deep struggle, Jessica said.
“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, nor sun without rain. But he did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and light for the way,” the sign reads.
As honored Chief for a Day, Maci joined Engel and Chief Brad Moericke in the Santa Parade and Daffodil Parade. She will participate in several other community events through the year and the program will culminate Aug. 21 at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center. A police motorcade, formal ceremony, lunch and demonstrations will be provided for the honored children.
The Bonney Lake Police Department is also participating in Chief for a Day. Their little chief will be featured in a later edition of the Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald.