U.S. Marshals ‘tickled to death’ about Blair E. Batson toy drive

Updated: Dec. 10, 2019 at 10:15 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - On a normal day, U.S. Marshals are chasing down bad guys and dealing with dangerous situations.

But they recently spent the day with some good guys like Tristan Smith.

Tristan, who’s being treated at Blair E. Batson Hospital, has already had an exciting life and he’s only 8-years-old.

“I lived overseas in Indonesia, and I was born in Bali,” he said matter-of-factly from behind a surgical mask meant to protect him from airborne dangers.

The aspiring engineer has even created his own board game. It’s a mixture of checkers and chess, battleship and the Halo video games... and maybe playground rules?

“So my laser robot is going to shoot him,” said a Marshal, pushing his handmade ‘laser robot’ piece across the board.

“Tickle, tickle, tickle,” Tristan said. “He just got tickled to death.”

“That’s not in the rules,” the Marshals replied, referencing the list of rules he had been provided.

“Okay, it’s not,” Tristan said gleefully.

Tristan even became a real live United States Marshal on Friday when Southern District U.S. Marshal Mark Shepherd pinned a little gold badge on his T-shirt.

And yet, the coolest part of the day for Tristan was still about his game. That was simple.

"Defeating him!” Tristan said.

The Marshals spent time with other kids too, such as 13-year-old Jada Head from Holmes County.

“There’s a lot of stuff we have learned throughout this whole experience," she said. "I just want to thank them for answering all the questions that we all had.”

Shepherd said the idea for the visit was born when the child of one of his friends had been a patient at Batson. He said he felt it in his heart that he wanted to help the Batson kids in whatever way he and his agency could.

And the experience proved to be a happy one for everyone.

“We’re having fun and the children are having fun and it’s a great day,” Shepherd said.

Contact the U.S. Marshal Service Southern District Headquarters in Jackson if you want to donate to the Marshals’ toy drive. They’ll be delivering them on Friday.

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