AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - A 7th grader from Americus has used the written word to honor her uncle after his death.
Georgia Southwestern State University Campus Safety Officer Jody Smith was shot and killed in the line of duty in December while responding to a domestic call.
His niece, Bailee Scott, 12, wanted to keep his memory alive.
"Now I'm wishing we could have spent a lot more time together than we did," said Scott.
The past few months have not been easy on Bailee and her mother, Jessica, who is Smith's older sister.
"They were really close," Bailee said of her mother and uncle. "I always loved that and looked up to them."
When her teacher mentioned a writing competition, an essay about her "Uncle Jody" came to life.
"There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to write about him," she said.
The pre-teen fought through tears to put her thoughts down on paper, writing an essay that would go on to win the Young Georgia Author's Competition for her school, and now her region.
The essay details what happened on December 7, 2016, from her eyes. She begins by getting checked out of school, not knowing what was going on.
Bailee details the moment she found out her uncle had been shot, and ends the essay with the moment her mother said goodbye to Officer Smith in the hospital, along with "Jody Carl Smith. End of Watch: December 8, 2016."
"I think he'd be really proud of me," she said of her uncle. "I know he's smiling down right now thinking, 'That's Bailee.'"
As Bailee put it, 'Heaven needed a hero," one whose memory will live on in the form of words thanks to his niece.
"My uncle Jody was a hero. Most people will never get the chance to meet their hero in real life, but I was lucky enough to know mine all my life," said Bailee.
Bailee's essay will go on to compete in the state competition. She will find out on May 12th whether she won for the entire state.
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