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A Shining Gift from a Local Police Officer

Not only does the Kissimmee Police Department keep our Central Florida community safe, they also bring a special magic to Give Kids The World Village. And, for Officer Eddie Cruz, the Village holds a special place in his heart and his home.

Officer Cruz (far left) with other members of the POP (Problem Oriented Policing) Unit.

Officer Cruz and members of the Kissimmee Police Department have visited the Village to support events such as Challenge for Hope and Over the Edge. They’ve also volunteered and taught wish kids about police work. But in December, he and a group of officers came on a special mission: to visit the Castle of Miracles and find the wish star of his wife, Amanda.

Amanda stayed at the Village in 1995 after her battle with leukemia. Just like every wish child who spends a week here, she has a star shining brightly in the Castle of Miracles. Eddie searched the Castle high and low, and, when he finally found Amanda’s star, he took lots of photos to create a collage. He gave the framed collage to Amanda as a special Christmas gift.

“My wish trip was such an exciting blur,” said Amanda. “But I’ll always remember lying by the pool, the theme parks, and that giant bunny … and I remember writing my name on that gold star. So, when I opened the gift I got really emotional.”

While Officer Cruz and other members of the KPD were at the Village, they spent time talking with wish families and seeing exactly what kids get to experience during their week here.

“When I got to meet the kids at the Village battling these critical illnesses, I couldn’t help but think about Amanda,” he said. “She used to be one of those eager, smiling faces at Give Kids The World. I wanted to see her name written on that star and share her story with Village volunteers and my fellow officers –how she survived and her light shines on.”

For Amanda, this heartfelt gift brought back all the wonderful memories she made during her wish trip. And, thanks to the involvement of Officer Cruz and these dedicated local police officers, even more wish kids can continue to make meaningful memories at the Village.

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