It had been a rough day for Sarah Cummings. The single mom who had been struggling financially now needed medical attention for her sick son. Just when the mom had no doubt lost all hope, however, her 9-year-old boy stepped up. He locked eyes with a police officer eating nearby and slowly walked towards him with a piece of paper folded in his hand.
Sarah lives in Tonawanda, New York, with her son. She had recently fallen on hard times, and things kept getting worse for her. Back in 2015, right after her father had passed away, the doting mother found a parking ticket on her car after the funeral. Then when trying to sort it out at the courthouse, she found a cop giving her another parking ticket. And just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, she returned to home one day to a horrifying sight.
Sarah’s landlord evicted her, and when she came out of court to settle that dispute, she again found the same cop writing out another parking ticket. But despite struggling to pay off her father’s funeral, all the parking tickets and getting money for a new apartment, Sarah still managed to put on a brave face in front of her kid. And when her son Stephen got sick and needed to go to the hospital, she thought she could keep it together – until she read the doctor’s bill.
When she saw the bill, she instantly knew she couldn’t afford the co-payment. That’s when the tough mom said enough is enough. A heated argument between her and the doctor flared up. Both of them yelled so loudly that most people waiting in the office were aware of Sarah’s financial hardships, including her son. Although he had no idea how, the little man knew he had to do something about it.
The mom had hit rock bottom. To cover the co-pay, she had to overdraft her account. The only money she had to her name was the 15 dollars in her pocket, which she used to buy her son breakfast at Denny’s and the remaining few dollars at the arcade. Then, while leaving the arcade, Stephen saw something that instantly made him freeze: the police officer that gave her mom all those parking tickets.
When Stephen grows up he’s decided that he wants to be a police officer. Because he idolizes them so much, every time he sees a cop he is in complete awe of them. However, after hearing about his mom’s parking woes, he was starting to feel conflicted. While having breakfast, Stephen was just a few tables away from Tonawanda PD officer Ryan Uribe, who was eating alone. Stephen was nervous while thinking about what to do, his next move could make or break the family.
Stephen really wanted to talk to officer Uribe about the parking tickets, but he’s a shy boy and couldn’t think of what to say. While he continued eating, Stephen thought really hard about how he could go up to the officer. All of sudden, he thought of a plan and he told his mother. She thought it was perfect as she anxiously watched her son put it all on the line.
Stephen walked up to the counter and talked to one of the waitresses working. He explained to the waitress what he wanted. She walked away and came back seconds later with paper and a pen. After she handed it to Stephen, he began writing. What Stephen wrote on that paper will leave you in tears.
After Stephen was done writing, he slowly walked to the table Uribe was sitting at. Even though he was extremely nervous, he managed to get the courage to walk up to him and wordlessly give him the paper. The officer was confused at first by the paper that Stephen handed him. But when he looked closer, his face turned beet red.
To his complete surprise, Uribe was handed the receipt for his breakfast. Stephen had just turned nine a few days before and had received some money as a birthday gift. Stephen decided to use some of that money to buy Uribe his breakfast. But that wasn’t it – Stephen had also written a note for Uribe with some very carefully crafted words.
The note read: “I want to be you when I grow up. Thank you for your service. Stephen Cummings.” The officer could not believe it – after all, nobody would expect to get their meal paid for a 9-year-old kid. He immediately knew he had to show his appreciation. But when the officer found out who his mom was, that initial heartwarming feeling was quickly replaced.
Officer Uribe jumped right out of his chair and asked Stephen to take a picture with him. The boy was thrilled – he’d not only gotten to meet one of his heroes, he now also had a photo with him. Then, to repay the gesture, the officer made one simple phone call that totally turned Sarah’s life around.
Stephen’s mother later posted the cop’s picture on Facebook, not realizing the reaction it would get. “One proud Momma. When your child asks if we can pay for an Officer’s Breakfast!!!! Writes him a message on his receipt,” read Sarah’s post. It was immediately met with positive comments from people praising Stephen for his big heart, as well as his mother for raising him right. But she didn’t expect who was about to share her post.
When officer Uribe recounted what happened, his fellow officers decided to contact Sarah and ask if they could share the story on their Facebook page. “Well Stephen you touched all of our hearts today. 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!” And what did officer Uribe do to repay them for all this?
After meeting with the mom and hearing her story, the officer knew what the right thing to do was. He called his captain at the Tonawanda police department and told him to drop the parking tickets as soon as possible. And just like that, they were gone. But when news of this touching moment spread across the police department, other officers came out to show the family their appreciation for supporting the boys in blue.
“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? It means that I need to keep trying to be a good example to all these young guys,” said the officer to ABC7 News. But it was Stephen and Officer Uribe’s relationship which got most of the attention, even from the media.
Stephen and the officer were interviewed by ABC7 News after the story had gone viral, and officer Uribe even let Stephen climb aboard his patrol car. The police officer now takes Stephen’s note wherever he goes, keeping it in the front pocket of his uniform. “I’ve got it right here, ‘cause I’m gonna keep it as long as I can,” he said.