Since her son has been seriously ill, this single mother has been in an extremely dire financial struggle. However, when it seemed like all hope was lost, her son put a special note in a police officer’s hand, and everything changed.
Twist Of Fate
Amanda Cantin, from Lakeland, Florida, is a single mother with two kids. They are naturally, her pride and joy. However, her fortunes have taken a turn for the worst in recent times. In 2015, Cantin received the most tragic news when she found out about the untimely passing of her own father. It was hard enough giving her dad one last send off, however, to make matters even worse, she ended up picking up a parking ticket on her way out of the cemetery.
Naturally, Amanda felt a strong sense of injustice after receiving the ticket at the worst of times. She simply had to do something about it. So she called authorities and asked to settle things in court. But in a sharp twist of irony, she ended up receiving another parking ticket while coming out of the courthouse that very day. Amazingly, upon returning home, her fortunes were about to get even worse and she was in store for something quite horrific…
Amanda was sure that things couldn’t get any worse for her. But sure enough, they did. Her landlord was there, waiting for her, and told her that she needed to vacate the premises. She was being evicted. She couldn’t believe what was happening. And even though she tried to settle her housing issues in court as well, she once again found a parking ticket planted on her car. How did she get three tickets in such a short space of time?
So here she was, desperately trying to make ends meet and feeling like the world was against her at the same time. Even though she was paying off tickets, stepping in and out of court, and she had just lost her father, she was still finding a way to smile. The reason for this was her children. But when her son Noah got sick and desperately needed treatment, she couldn’t believe how much it was going to cost…
Time To Take Action
Amanda instantly knew that she wouldn’t be able to pay the medical bills there and then. At this point, the single mother knew that it was time to take action. She spoke up against the doctor and, when people in the waiting room could hear the argument ensuing between the two, they understood the troubles that this woman was going through. One of the people who took notice was her own son, Noah. He felt more compelled than ever to help out his mom…
It was an all-time low for Amanda and her kids. They were at their most critical point; it was either make or break. The single mother only had 15 dollars to her name and she was forced to go into her overdraft in order to cover the medical bills. Ultimately, she took the last 15 dollars she had and treated Noah to breakfast at Denny’s. Then, on that fateful morning, Noah turned his head a notice something that absolutely terrified him.
There he was, the same police officer who had given his mom all those devastating parking tickets. The irony of this is that Noah’s dream is to become a cop. He has often been in awe of policemen, having seen them portrayed on TV as heroes and seeing them on the streets. However, after seeing the same man cause his mother so much pain in such a short space of time, he was starting to have second thoughts.
More Than Just A Cop
The policeman that Noah had spotted was Lakeland PD Officer Eddie Benitez, who was also stopping off at Denny’s to buy something for breakfast. Noah was in an extreme state of conflict. He wanted to defend his mother, but here was someone who, despite being responsible for many of his mom’s recent shortcomings, was supposed to be one of his heroes. What was he supposed to do? Eventually, Noah knew what to do and made his move.
Noah was determined to confront Officer Benitez and inquire about the tickets he gave to Amanda. However, Noah was just a boy and in all fairness, was shy. He was scared to simply go up to Benitez and talk to him. So instead, he conjured up a contingency plan and informed his mom about it. Although initially apprehensive about the idea, she gave Noah her blessing and watched as the boy went through with it. But what did he do?
On The Move
Instead of walking up to Benitez, Noah approached the waitress at the counter instead. He whispered into the waitress’s ear exactly what he wanted. Amanda looked on, amazed at her son’s intervention. The waitress gave a pen and a piece of paper to Noah and as soon as he received, he started to write something down. He obviously had a clear idea of what he wanted to jot down. But what was it exactly? A message? A threat perhaps?
As Noah came to the end of the page, he stopped writing, took the note and walked over to where Benitez was sitting. It was clear that Noah was unsure how this was all going to play out, but he went with his gut and knew that he had to take this risk. As he approached the cop, he said absolutely nothing. All he did was plant the note in his hand and walk away. Naturally, Benitez was very confused…
Initially, Benitez didn’t know what to make of the note, but upon closer inspection, it all started to make sense. At that exact moment, the officer received his check for the breakfast he had. It turns out that after turning nine just a couple of days beforehand, Noah used part of his birthday money to treat Benitez. But what exactly did the note say that Noah had written to the cop? Benitez started to the read the note to himself…
The Sweetest Words
“I want to be you when I grow up. Thank you for your service. Noah Smiling.” That is all it said on the note. Despite this short, simple message, the officer was completely taken aback by Noah’s kind words. He also knew exactly who had paid for his breakfast. It was so surreal. His automatic inclination was to return the favor, somehow, some way. But then, his heart completely sank when he found out who Noah’s mother was…
Before he got the chance to speak with Amanda, Benitez approached Noah and asked if the two could have a photo taken together. He was so excited to share this moment with his friends, family and work colleagues. And Noah felt the same way. He was honored to have got the chance to speak with a police officer, one of his heroes. But it was what happened next, as a result of what Benitez did, that would turn this story completely upside down.
Sharing The Story
What the officer did for Noah would completely change everything, particularly for Amanda. She ended up posting the photo of Benitez and Noah on social media, simply because it was a cool moment. The photo’s caption read as follows: “One proud Momma. When your child asks if we can pay for an Officer’s Breakfast!!!! Writes him a message on his receipt.” But Amanda could never anticipate how much attention she would get after uploading the image. The story ended up going viral.
The reaction that Amanda, Noah, and Benitez received for the photo was completely overwhelming. People were in absolute awe because of Noah’s immense courage to stand up for his mother while also establishing a strong connection with Benitez. It was obvious to many that Noah was a good boy and that despite her problems, Amanda had raised him well. A torrent of positive feedback came flooding in online. Then, Amanda could never anticipate who was about to share the post.
After Benitez told his team about the events that had transpired, they were determined to share the story as far and wide as possible. After getting the green light from Amanda, who was absolutely thrilled about their reactions, they also posted the photo online. “Well Noah you touched all of our hearts today,” they wrote. “Your support means so much to all of the men and women who put on the uniform every day. We wish you the happiest of Birthdays!”
Benitez Redeems Himself
Benitez wasn’t done though. Despite all the online love that Amanda, Noah and even he had received, he felt like he had an obligation to give back to the single mother. He started to get a clearer picture of Amanda’s situation, and knew exactly how to move forward. Consequentially, he contacted Lakeland’s Police Department’s captain and begged that he would drop the parking tickets that had been issued to Amanda in the first place. But did the captain comply?
Needless to say, the captain was completely sympathetic with Amanda and Noah’s situation and dropped all of the parking tickets. And it wasn’t just the captain whose heart Noah stole. Eventually, the love that was created by this heartwarming note spread to every single police officer at the department, and beyond. Police from all across the country sent their words of appreciation to Noah, calling him a young man who is worthy to one day become part of the police force.
Words Of Apperication
For Benitez, the moment that Noah planted that note in his hand completely changed his perspective on many things. “It meant everything. It meant that I’m supposed to wake up every morning and put on this uniform and go out there and do what I do. You know?” he said. “It means that I need to keep trying to be a good example to all these young guys.” But the message of this heartwarming moment ended up affecting more people…
As a result of Lakeland Police Department’s shared post of the photo, the story ended up becoming an internet sensation. The note story reached people beyond the U.S., and people from all around the globe warmed towards the story, creating a domino effect online. “Way to go Noah! Thank you for being one awesome kid,” one woman from Italy said. “And thank you to the Lakeland Police for all that they do.” However, many pointed out something interesting…
There were many online users, especially those who had connections with police departments, who believed that it wasn’t all cops who thought the same way as Benitez. One woman wrote: “This shows how exceptional YOU all are. I can assure you not all officers are like that. Whenever I’d see an officer dining or having some coffee I pick up the tab but none ever thanked me in any shape or form.” This goes to show that Noah and Benitez were the heartbeats of this story.
Bringing People Together
Although the Lakeland Police Department were extremely thankful for the amount of love and warmth they got for sharing the image. But when everything was said and done, it was Noah and Benitez who received the most love from the public. These were two individuals who came from very different circumstances. And despite the shared history between Benitez and Amanda, one act of kindness brought these two together and ultimately, brought many more people along for the ride.
A Powerful Note
Even after the note story went viral, Noah and Benitez continued to make the headlines when the officer brought Amanda’s son to the police department. He even let him get into his police car. Now, Benitez always carries the note with him, and put it in his uniform front pocket as a lucky charm. It also reminds him to always put the people first. “I’ve got it right here,” he said. “‘Cause I’m gonna keep it as long as I can.”