Fun the order of day for honorary chief

Leena Bonilla was the Port Orchard Police Department’s chief for a day. - Kenny Gatlin Photo
Leena Bonilla was the Port Orchard Police Department’s chief for a day.
— image credit: Kenny Gatlin Photo

Port Orchard Police Department

treats ailing SK girl to a day in charge.

Leena Bonilla has only eight years under her belt, but she’s fought for every one of them.

Diagnosed with leukemia as an infant, the Manchester Elementary School student underwent numerous chemotherapy sessions and two heartbreaking relapses before turning 4.

At the age of 3, Leena received a transplant from stem cells collected soon after the birth of her sister, Ryley.

And while the transplant successfully battled her cancer, the tissue she received began attacking the rest of her body, as well, in what is known as Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD).

To combat the GVHD, Bonilla takes immune-depressant drugs, which are administered while she is at school by Lisa Lightbody, a volunteer coordinator and office assistant at Manchester Elementary.

And when Lightbody learnedw that the Port Orchard Police Department was looking for another local child to make another honorary “Chief for a Day,” she knew exactly who to nominate.

POPD officer Trey Holden said his department really wanted to host a local child for the event, and was happy for the nomination.

“Chief (Al Townsend) volunteered to be a part of this year’s program, but he wanted to know if there was a local child that we could honor, instead of being assigned one,” Holden said, referring to the regional program that is hosted by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

Held every few years in Kent, the event gathers law enforcement agencies from across the state, each hosting a child battling a life-threatening disease.

While in Kent, the children are treated as honorary chiefs and given uniforms, badges and treated to numerous demonstrations of law enforcement equipment and skills.

The first year the POPD participated, it hosted a young girl from Forks. Since then, the department has worked to include local children in the event.

For this year’s event on Auwg. 28, the department decided to escort Bonilla and her family on its police boat instead of driving everyone to Kent.

“A ride on the boat would be an excellent beginning demonstration of police-related equipment, and seemed like a logical way to start an exciting day to honor a bubbly, excited 8-year-old girl,” Holden said.

The rest of the family joined Leena for her day as chief, including her parents Rachel and Ismael, along with sisters Ryley, 6, Samantha, 4, and 1-year-old Madison.

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