ATHENS, Ga. - On the week of her birthday, a little girl is paying tribute to her late father, who was killed in the line of duty.
Callie Christian turns 10 years old on Wednesday, which is a big deal to most children - entering into double digits. However, it's also a tough time for Callie because her dad, Athens-Clarke County Police Office Elmer "Buddy" Christian, isn't here to help her celebrate. In 2011, Christian was shot and killed while responding to a carjacking where another officer had been shot and wounded. Christian had just arrived at the scene when suspect, Jamie Hood, shot him inside his patrol car. In July, Hood was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for Officer Christian's murder.
On Monday, Georgia-based photographer Mary Lee took some special photos of Callie honoring her dad. Recently, Lee took similar pictures of Callie's brother, Wyatt, on his 7 th birthday. They were so touching that Officer Christian's wife, Melissa, asked Lee to do the same for Callie's birthday.
"We did a balloon release and she said a prayer for her daddy," Lee told FOX 5. "I can't imagine year after year celebrating her birthday and other holidays with her father in heaven."
Lee said Callie and Wyatt are two of the "sweetest souls" she has ever worked with.
"As we all get older we change, but a picture does not," Lee said. "It preserves a moment you can never get back or do over."
In one photo, Callie is holding a locket-type necklace with her father's image inside. In another image, she's in front of two patrol cars, smiling and latching onto a sign that reads "All lives matter! So did my dad's!"
"I can't even put into words how it broke my heart to see the pain in her eyes, but managed to smile so big," Lee said.
Callie told Lee for her birthday she plans on enjoying a visit to the American Girl Doll store with her mom.
To learn more about Mary Lee Photography, click here.