Troutdale school dedicates rock wall to officer
TROUTDALE - Officer Mike Kellogg had no idea what he was in for when he walked into Troutdale Elementary School on Friday, Sept. 29.
Kellogg, the school's former Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, was brought in under the ruse that he was there to talk about the D.A.R.E. program.
However, the staff had something else in mind.
Principal Anne Chudek and physical education teacher Tom Harrison scheduled a special assembly in Kellogg's honor to dedicate the school's new climbing wall to him.
'I never in a million years would have guessed that they'd do something like that for me,' Kellogg said.
The school wanted to recognize Kellogg, who gave up his position as the D.A.R.E. officer last year when he was diagnosed with leukemia, as someone who remained positive when things were hard, Harrison said.
'Wow - what do you say?' Kellogg said as he walked to the podium, tears in his eyes.
'We admire his courage and his perseverance,' Chudek said. 'All those skills we talk about every day, he has lived them.'
Troutdale Mayor Paul Thalhofer echoed her sentiments.
'We are very proud of Officer Mike Kellogg,' Thalhofer said. 'He has gone through a lot and he has been very courageous about it.'
After being out of the office for 19 months battling leukemia, Kellogg returned to work on Sept. 11, a date he picked specifically to honor police officers and firefighters who gave their lives in the aftermath of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
'I'm fulltime on the road,' Kellogg said. 'Back to 100 percent police officer taking calls on the street. The immune system is still not up to par yet, so it actually is safer for me to be out here than roaming the schools.'
Although Kellogg would eventually like to continue his work in the schools, Officer Ryan Rist has taken over his duties as a D.A.R.E. instructor and school resource officer for Walt Morey Middle School.
'It's still nice for me because I can run through the neighborhoods in the morning and say 'hi' to the kids at the bus stop,' Kellogg said. 'They still remember me.'
Kellogg, who has been with the Troutdale Police Department for a little more than six and a half years, was the D.A.R.E. officer at Troutdale Elementary School for five years.
He also taught D.A.R.E. classes to fourth-grade students at Sweetbriar Elementary School, where he often repeated his motto: 'Have fun, always try your best and do the right thing.'
When Kellogg was diagnosed with leukemia in February 2005, the prognosis was grim.
He was in and out of the hospital, and was often required to stay for months at a time. 'I should have been dead, really,' Kellogg said. 'With working in the schools, I caught all the infections the kids passed around.'
At one point, his doctor actually told him that he would never work again and would spend the rest of his life on disability.
Late last year, Kellogg moved to Seattle, where he had a bone marrow transplant on Sept. 1.
The next four months were perhaps his most challenging with daily follow-up-doctor visits and blood tests.
'It was hard just to get up and move,' he said. 'Just walking around I would get tired. I don't wish this on anybody.'
Through it all, he has retained his sense of humor but lost a lot of weight.
'I've lost like a Backstreet Boy, so I guess that's good, but I don't recommend the chemo diet,' he joked.
Things are looking much better now.
After months of treatment, Kellogg is almost off of his medication and is trying to stay healthy and keep the extra weight off by working out.
'Going back to work is a step in the right direction,' he said, adding that he is happy to be back at home in Gresham. 'I just want to go back to work and make money and support my kids.'