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Daughter of Fallen Deputy Sheriff Honors Late Father in Photo Tribute

A little girl from Georgia is paying tribute to her late father for her third birthday this year.

Franklin County Deputy Sheriff Cruz Thomas was killed on May 21, 2014, in the line of duty as his vehicle crashed when he attempted to catch someone for a traffic violation, FOX 5 reports.

Taliya Thomas, who was just eight months old when her father died, dressed up in her father’s hat and uniform as a tribute to him in a photo shoot for her third birthday this year.

Georgia-based photographer Mary Lee captured Taliya praying for her father while wearing the uniform, as well as other moments.

“She carries his badge,” Lee told FOX.

Lee noticed that a yellow butterfly followed Taliya around to several of the filming locations.

“She said ‘that’s my daddy sending me butterfly kisses from heaven for my birthday,’” Lee recalled. “She is such a smart little girl.”

Lee told FOX that every year on her birthday since her father’s passing, Taliya has sent balloons up to heaven.

“Her smile will light up any room,” Lee said. “To be so young, she understands her daddy is in heaven and she knows he watches over her.”

Taliya and her family will continue to honor Thomas’ memory at the third annual Cruz Thomas Memorial Ride Saturday, where proceeds will benefit The Cruz Thomas Scholarship and Shriners Hospitals for Children in Atlanta.

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