"No one fights alone in the blue family"
In December 2014 Savannah Solis walked by a television as the story of two NYPD officers killed in action was playing on the news.
“I was really confused,” said Savannah. “As a 10 year old I did not understand why people would do that. So that Christmas break I made 100 thank-you cards.”
Those cards were hand delivered to officers within Tyler Police Department, and now, over 5 years later, Savannah has hand-written more than 6,000 thank-you cards, visited departments within 22 different states, sent cards to countless countries and has even flown overseas to deliver notes to officers within foreign departments.
“[When Savannah was younger] something she struggled with was actually using her voice,” said Debbie Solis, Savannah’s mother. “So I think what’s moved me so much over the years, is to see her step our of that comfort zone because she knows that [her message] is important.”
Now, Savannah’s message has impacted more than just the law enforcement family through the Savannah Challenge.
“I started the Savannah challenge to challenge everyone to thank law enforcement,” said Savannah. “I’ll go to schools and speak to [students] about what I do and about the officers I meet, and I challenge them to say thank you or to write a thank you card.”
You can learn more about the Savannah Challenge on Savannah’s Facebook page, Help Savannah Say Thank You. Savannah shares her travels across the United State and beyond while inspiring her peers to say thank you as well.
Savannah has spent much of her life thanking law enforcement, but in early 2019 officers from across East Texas and the nation came together to show their support of the Solis family.
“I got a phone call from Blue Alert which is a police foundation in Florida,” said Officer Kerri Long with the Tyler Police Department. “One of the foundation members contacted me and asked if I heard about Savannah’s mom. I said no, and they said that Savannah’s mom had had her fourth heart attack.”
Then Officer Long contacted Savannah’s mother, Debbie, to see what she could do for the family. That’s when Debbie said she wasn’t the only one going through medical hardships.
“She was telling me about Savannah and her medical issues and that she has to go to get testing done in Fort Worth,” said Officer Long. ” And Savannah’s brother, Jabez, had just undergone his second brain surgery within a few months. So that’s when I knew I needed to help them.”
Officer Long was on her way to visit the Solis family at their home when she noticed they had a tarp over their roof protecting a leak.
“There’s 5 members of the Solis family, and at this time 3 of the 5 members are dealing with major medical issues,” said Officer Long. “They weren’t even worried about their roof leaking. So that’s when I sent an email to all of the officers at the police department asking for help and then when Stonewater Roofing came in and said we’ll take care of it.”
In February 2019 Stonewater Roofing gifted the Solis family a brand new roof, and Tyler PD gifted the Solis family with some money to help with their medical bills.
“When [Savannah first started writing letters] I would hear officers call each other ‘my blue family.’ And law enforcement really is a family” said Debbie. “And so as we started doing this we really saw that bond and they really just welcomed her in like a part of them. And when we recently went through all of these issues the blue family stepped up for us.”
As for Savannah, she doesn’t plan on stopping the letter writing soon. She even wants to join law enforcement when she’s older.
You can visit or contribute to the Solis Family’s GoFundMe, started by Blue Alert, here.
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