Boy asks to buy meal for Lakeland officer with birthday money

An 8-year-old boy spent his birthday money to buy a meal for a police officer. Now the officer gets to say thank you.

LAKELAND — This story made the Lakeland Police Department's day.      

And it'll make your day too.

Noah, 8, was at Denny's with his mom.

When he saw officer Eddie Benitez,  he asked if he could use his birthday money to pay for his breakfast.

He left a note on the receipt:

"I want to be you when I grow up. Thank you for your service."

Nightside reporter Mark Rivera reunited the officer and child to talk about the meaning behind such a generous act of kindness.

OFFICER EDDIE BENITEZ, LAKELAND PD: I was there eating my breakfast and all of a sudden, I see this little gentleman walking towards me.

AMANDA CANTIN, NOAH'S MOM: He says, 'Mom there's a police officer down there,' I said, 'Yeah I know I seen him when I walked in!'

OFFICER BENITEZ: I was just thinking he would come and say, hi, how you doing, you know.

CANTIN: And he's like, I know what to do, and I'm like what? And he goes, 'Can I pay for his breakfast?' And I said absolutely!

BENITEZ: He hands me the tab, you know, and I look at him and I look up the tab, and I'm like, wait a minute. I put my glasses on and I read it. Can I read what he wrote? I've got it right here, 'cause I'm gonna keep it as long as I can.

He wrote on top of it - "I want to be you when I grow up." Then on the bottom he writes, "thank you for your service - Noah Smiling."

Like I said, it just made my day.

RIVERA: Sometimes police officers take a lot of flak, and you see him with this big heart coming forward and giving you that piece of paper what it mean to you?

OFFICER BENITEZ: I meant everything. It meant that I'm supposed to wake up every morning and put on his uniform and go out there and do what I do. You know? It means that I need to keep trying to be a good example to all these young guys.

CANTIN: I'm one proud lucky mother. Very.

NOAH: I wanted to make his day better.

BENITEZ: Sure did. It was a good day.

© 2018 WTSP-TV


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