March 6, 2019
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — Last week, first responders from across central Arkansas lined the streets as they waited to salute as an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission truck to pass by, but it was not the wildlife officer driving the truck they were focused on. Instead, they were standing tall and saluting the courage of the young man riding in the back of the truck, Louie Schneider. This would be the last ride in a vehicle the 9-year-old would make in his short, but impactful life.
Louie, who suffers from an undiagnosed terminal illness which causes gastrointestinal issues and seizures, was on his way to Arkansas Children’s Hospital to begin end-of-life care during this now famous ride on Feb. 28.
Knowing how Louie looked up to first responders such as firemen, police officers, emergency medical technicians and wildlife officers, Louie’s neighbor and friend, Wildlife Officer Adam Baker, decided to organize a small coming home for Louie when he came home from the hospital a month ago.
“He’s such a strong young man, he never complains that he isn’t able to do some of the things he sees other kids doing,” Baker said. “He’s always smiling and happy about his life. That’s why I started to say that I wish I was not strong, but “LouieStrong.’”
From Baker’s single post requesting help, more than 100 officers, firemen and EMTs arrived at Louie’s home for a parade, and many of those men and women came by to make personal visits beyond the first drive-by.
“He’s really touched the lives of those of us who have had a chance to know him,” Baker said. Two weeks ago, when planning for his final trip to the hospital, Louie asked Baker for his help.
“He asked if I would take him,” Baker said. “He knew exactly why he was going..to see Jesus.”
Baker again sent out a request to his fellow first responders to help make Louie’s last ride in a car one that wouldn’t be forgotten. More than 100 police officers, firemen, EMTs and other first responders lined the road on the way from Louie’s home to Arkansas Children’s Hospital to salute the young man’s courage and strength in a situation many would face with hopelessness and sorrow.
Throughout the entire ride, Louie held his head high and even paused to make sure his mother had placed her seatbelt on correctly for her safety. He heard from police officers and others as they radioed in their prayers and thoughts toward the young man’s journey. Louie’s message to the men and women saluting him on his ride; “Stay safe. I love you.10-4.”
Baker and his wife have organized a campaign around the LouieStrong motto, to help raise money for Louie’s family and the expenses they have endured throughout Louie’s hospitalization.
“It actually just began as a couple of stickers that I had made for the officers who came to visit Louie in the hospital after his ride,” Baker said. “A friend made about 300 to pass out and share, and then we had someone request to give a donation for some. We asked Louie’s mother if it would be OK to help them out with some of their expenses using the stickers, and she was overwhelmed to know that her son’s strength and faith had made such an impression on people. In less than three days, we’ve already sold 700 LouieStrong stickers to first responders, their families and many other people. I can’t believe it myself, but I’ve even mailed one as far as Egypt.”