One year after saving her life, Officer Patrick Ray joined a tea party with 2-year-old Bexley.

He answered a 911 call after the girl choked on a penny.

Bexley invited him to the tea party “in celebration of their special bond.” Ray happily accepted:

“It was something that I just couldn’t turn down because I knew it was going to be really special for her mom and Bexley,” Ray told ABC News. “I have two boys, so I don’t get to do that type of stuff you do with a little girl. She’s a sweetheart. She’s my best friend.”

Last July, Bexley’s mother Tammy Norvell noticed she wasn’t breathing, her lips completely blue. Her father quickly called 911 and Ray came to the rescue even though he was on a lunch break:

“I heard [Ray’s] siren and ran out the front door,” Norvell said. “He’s grabbing her from me and is trying to pry her mouth open with two hands. He did the finger sweep into her esophagus and a penny dropped down into it. That’s when we heard the most beautiful sound of her squeaking and coughing and crying.”

The family never forgot Ray and have stayed in touch:

“We saw them for Thanksgiving, we had Christmas together, he came to my kids’ parties,” Norvell said. “I feel that I have no words, even after a year. I hold [police officers] all in high regard, but there’s no way to repay [Ray]. I want to portray that image, that they have a softer side. If we can change one person’s image of police officers, then the world can only be better.”