If you’re looking for a feel-good story that’s a sure pick-me-up, read on.
There’s only one thing more exciting than visiting Walt Disney World for the first time, and that’s watching a child visit the parks for the first time: the light in their eyes, the joy in their hearts, the elation in their voices–each a testimony to a child witnessing the Magic in person for the very first time.
The Cocoa Police Department got to witness that very experience yesterday when officers, along with 25 personally-selected kids, loaded a big bus, headed to Walt Disney World and took Magic Kingdom by storm. Many of the kids on the trip had never experienced a Disney Park before this outing that was sponsored by Disney and Cocoa Community First, a non-profit organization that pairs Cocoa Police officers with kids in the community in an effort to build self-esteem, foster friendships, and help young people develop productive life skills.
Today, some of our officers and department staff had the opportunity to take 25 children to Walt Disney World. The trip is sponsored by Walt Disney World and our police department non-profit Cocoa Community First, Inc. Thank you to everyone who supports this non-profit and thank you to Disney for helping us connect with our kids. It's about making them feel special and letting them know we are so very proud of their good behavior and accomplishments. The children were identified and selected by their school principals and teachers. We are grateful to be able to do this each year.
Posted by Cocoa Police Department on Tuesday, August 6, 2019
“It’s about making them feel special and letting them know we are so very proud of their good behavior and accomplishments,” the Facebook post read. “We are grateful to be able to do this each year.”
Officer Brenda Marchica, Officer James Salley, Officer Sayge Gray, Lieutenant Mike Dellatorre, Officer Donald Tabor, Officer Chris Bradshaw, and Officer Chris Hattaway are some of the very special officers with big hearts who spent the day experiencing the magic of Disney World, riding rides and enjoying attractions of all kinds around the six lands of the Magic Kingdom with 25 kids who are pretty special themselves.
The group even had bus trouble while on Disney property, so Disney was only too happy to send one of its buses to pick up all the friendly officers and kids and get them on their way to Magic Kingdom! Everyone was still all smiles.
Lunch was even provided by Firehouse Subs. And what better place to enjoy lunch than near Storybook Circus in Fantasyland?
The kids even got to meet Belle and experience “Enchanting Tales with Belle” at Beast Castle!
The kids got to see all of Magic Kingdom, including Frontierland, Space Mountain, the Speedway and the People Mover in Tomorrowland and Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland.
Each of the 25 kids who participated in the day trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth was chosen by Brevard County School prinicpals and teachers because of the kids’ individual accomplishments and behavior.
“The children matter and that’s what we want them to know,” Officer Hattaway shared.
Cocoa Community First sponsors other programs for kids in the community. During the holiday season, thanks to a partnership with Wal-Mart stores, the Shop with a Cop Program pairs kids and Cocoa Police officers who enjoy shopping for anything on the child’s Christmas wish list, up to $125 per child.
Over the summer, Cops and Kids Summer Camp teaches kids new skills, helps them to develop life skills and fosters positive interactions as officers and kids tour area attractions together. The Police Athletic League (PAL) creates positive relationships between local youth and police officers. PAL also encourages healthy self-esteem through team sports and activities that teach the importance of positive life choices.
We tip our hats to the officers serving the kids and families in the community of Cocoa, Florida, and thank them for their time, their service and their dedication.
To learn more about Cocoa Community First, visit their website here.
All photos courtesy of Officer Chris Hattaway and the Cocoa Police Department.