If you asked me "what do you want to be when you grow up," without hesitation I'd say, "Whitney Martin." I'm willing to bet that if you asked any little girl in Rockford the same question, they'd say the same.

I almost feel like I shouldn't be the one to bring you this news because I haven't had the pleasure of working with Whitney quite as long as everyone else in our building; I can count on one hand the amount of times I've been in the same building, but I won't forget those brief interactions that I had with her.

The first time I met Whitney was at a job fair at the BMO Harris Bank Center; I had been dying to meet her ever since I started working for the morning show. After fighting through a group of teens to get to her, she gave me a big hug and we spent nearly 5 minutes trying to take the perfect selfie together; I think we ended up laughing over trying to take the perfect one and never did nail it. Sad face.

There's something you'll never see on Whitney's face, a sad face. Whether it was on television or at any of the hundreds of events that she attended and emceed, she always had a smile on her face and I think that's what Rockford will miss the most.

I can't begin to imagine how this community will move on without her; she touched so many lives and there's no one who can replace her.

Thank you, Whitney, for everything that you've done for the city of Rockford; it makes me so proud to see women like you in our industry go on to do even more amazing things. I could only dream of making a quarter of the impact on this community as you did. Good luck!

Catch Mandy James on “The Steve Shannon Show with Mandy James” on 97 ZOK from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.