Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Fifteen years ago, a highway patrol trooper here in South Carolina helped a 7-year-old boy and his family after a car accident. Now that boy, Joseph Ragsdale, has become a South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper.
"I've always had a big admiration for law enforcement officers," Trooper Ragsdale said.
Ragsdale's mother, Robin Ragsdale. will tell you that is true, even when he was a young boy.
"Anytime we were in a restaurant or a store and he'd see them he'd always say, 'mom, mom... can I go shake his hand? can I go talk to him?'" Ms. Ragsdale said, "so I knew something was going to be special there."
It was the moment Robin Ragsdale got into a fender bender that turned Joseph's admiration into inspiration.
"I asked my dad if he would ask the trooper for the photo and he said, 'of course,'" Trooper Ragsdale said.
Robin says her son hung that photo up in his room.
"I was just so amazed at how the trooper held himself, the uniform that he wore, [and] the kindness he showed to my family," Trooper Ragsdale said.
When Ragsdale graduated from the South Carolina Highway Patrol basic training last week, Sgt. Hallman was in the crowd.
"It made me have a warm feeling inside," Hallman said.
Hallman says he was shown the old photo about two months ago.
"And it was definitely me, but a lot less room on my belt then," Hallman joked.
If you ask Hallman if he feels like a role model, he will tell you no.
"I was just doing my job in a way that I thought was right," Hallman said.
But the proof is in the gold badge that is now on Trooper Ragdale's chest.
"I want to be just like that honestly," Trooper Ragsdale said, "I want to go out and take my time and just show people that we're there for them."
Ragsdale's mom says she could not be more excited to see her son live his dream.
"I'm a proud mama and I love my son," Ms. Ragsdale said.
Sgt. Hallman says he looks forward to being a mentor for Trooper Ragsdale as he begins his new career.