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The real hero: Boy seeks autograph at Disney World... from police officer

At Disney World, the local celebrities usually sport tails or tiaras. But the autograph a boy visiting the park sought was that of a deputy.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

At Walt Disney World, the local celebrities usually sport tails or tiaras. But when his family visited Hollywood Studios recently, the autograph 6-year-old Shayne Welch of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, sought was that of Orange County Master Deputy Keith Rogers.

Shayne was at the park with his parents, his twin brother Gavyn, and his older brother, Robbie, 9.

“It was our last park day in Disney, so we let each of the boys pick something from the gift store. Shayne selected the autograph book and pen,” says Shayne’s mother, Jennie Welch.

“As soon as he saw Deputy Rogers, he asked if he could get his autograph. We walked over to Deputy Rogers, who immediately bent down to Shayne's level and began a conversation with him. He liked Shayne’s haircut and commented that when he was a boy, he had a similar cut. We thanked Deputy Rogers and continued through the park. When we were leaving, Shayne insisted on going out the exit near Deputy Rogers. When the Deputy saw him, he yelled out, ‘Bye, Shayne!’ Shayne looked at me with a huge smile and said, ‘Mom, I'm gonna miss him.’”

Shayne’s mother — herself a Tewksbury police officer who serves as her department’s safety officer, facilitating community outreach — captured the exchange between her son and Rogers and shared it with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“Who needs Mickey’s autograph when you can have an OCSO deputy’s?” Welch wrote in her caption. The sweet picture of the moment between the officer and the little boy has since gone viral on Facebook.

“It was a ‘proud mommy’ moment for me,” says Welch. “I love that Shayne looks at first responders as heroes — his mom is a police officer and his dad is a firefighter.”

Rogers, who has been working the detail at Disney for about 11 years, has been a deputy sheriff in Orange County, Florida — where Disney World is located — for 14 years. He says this moment is actually quite common for him.

“I frequently take photos (many, many photos), shake hands, high-five, and, yes, sign autographs for kids all the time,” he says.

Rogers says the positive interactions he has with children and adults while on detail at Disney is one of the main reasons he takes those assignments, but he has a few personal reasons as well.

“I am a huge fan of Walt Disney and a father of a 6-year-old and 3-year-old. I would like my children to be safe and protected when they are at the theme parks and do take that responsibility seriously,” he says.

His efforts are not going unnoticed.

“There are so many officers out there doing a great job day in and out, even when it's as small as signing an autograph for a little boy. That moment is something that Shayne will not forget, and I wanted Deputy Rogers to know how much it was appreciated,” says Welch.

“Sometimes, we get busy and forget to take the time to thank people for those small acts of kindness. It made Shayne’s day!”