A 9-year-old boy, who wants to be a police officer when he grows up, picked up the check for a member of his local force Thursday morning, delighting the cop and creating a social media sensation in the process.

When Noah glanced across a restaurant one morning, he spied a Lakeland, Florida, police officer sitting alone eating his breakfast. He instantly became nervous and wasn’t sure how to act.

He knew what he wanted to do and told his mother about the plan. Hiis actions that morning in the restaurant prompted the officer to jump out of his chair. The police officer was overwhelmed with what the little boy did…

Noah asked his mom, Amanda Cantin, if he could say “Hi” to Officer Eddie Benitez. Mom and son were together eating breakfast at a local Denny’s because it was “Bring Your Child To Work Day.” She of course said yes.

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.

Noah and Amanda flagged down a waitress and told them about Noah’s plan. Once they received the receipt, Noah wanted to write a special note to the officer. With Amanda’s help, he penned a heartfelt message.

“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.

Officer Benitez thanked Noah and asked if they could take a picture together. Later that day, the Lakeland Police Department thanked Noah in a Facebook post, saying his good deed made their day.


Amanda says Noah has wanted to be a police officer for the past four years.

“I’m going to make the world a better place and capture the bad guys,” Noah told us.

Amanda says Noah needs to stop growing so fast, but she couldn’t be more proud of her kindhearted son.

“If 10 years from now, he puts on that uniform and has that badge on, I will be a one proud mom,” she said.

We think Officer Benitez would be pretty happy with Noah, too. Good luck chasing your dream Noah!


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