When you think of Walt Disney World Resorts, the place where dreams come true and cherished memories are made, one word tends to comes to mind: Magic.
One family who recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios had such a memorable time, they asked the Internet for help locating a Walt Disney World cast member who sprinkled some extra magic on their trip — and brightened the day of two very special girls.
“Will you help me share this to find and thank this gentleman, a Disney employee?” Glenn O’Neill wrote in a post on Love What Matters, before detailing his family’s recent trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. “It had been a good, but tiring day up to that point,” explained O’Neill, “and we decided to take a break before moving onto the next ride.”
O’Neill’s 7-year-old daughter, Eliza, suffers from the terminal disease Sanfilippo syndrome, which he describes as being like a “childhood Alzheimer’s.” The syndrome causes significant dementia, usually by age 5. O’Neill tells Babble he now works at Cure Sanfilippo Foundation, where he says they are working to spread awareness for a cure for all children.
During their trip, O’Neill and his family were accompanied by friends who also have a 7-year-old daughter with Sanfilippo, named Keira. As the two families were looking for a spot for the girls to stop and rest, they noticed a long ling of people waiting to meet Doc McStuffins.
“Since I knew my daughter liked Doc, I figured we could stop where she could at least see her way through the people,” wrote O’Neill.
But what happened next was the stuff of fairy tales.
“As we parents were talking, the next thing we know, the Doc McStuffins character is right in front of Eliza and holding her hand,” wrote O’Neill. “Eliza’s look of wonderment was something I won’t forget, and Doc did the same with Keira, who didn’t want to let go of Doc’s hand.”
Doc McStuffins spent several minutes with the two girls, according to O’Neill, and that was followed by a surprise visit from none other than Jake — from Jake and the Never Land Pirates! The grateful father notes that both characters left the line where people were waiting, just to come over to meet the two girls.
“At first I couldn’t figure out why and how these characters even knew we were there in the sea of people, but then I saw the man … the Disney employee …who had made sure this happened. We never asked him or acted like we wanted to be in line. He did this, on his own, just seeing these two girls in their chairs, and he knew what it would mean to them … and to us.”
O’Neill admits he felt “a bit guilty” and worried about looks they might receive from other parents waiting in line with impatient children.
“But do you know what I saw … I saw only smiles, from the parents and from the kids … and some parents whispering to their children, probably explaining ‘these girls need to see the Doc right now … before we do.'”
It was a powerful moment for the father, who says he had to hold back tears.
“The emotions were taking over, for the first and only time during our trip,” he wrote.
O’Neill quickly thanked the man who helped make this magical moment possible, but sadly never got his name. Is hope in writing the post now was to simply “let Disney know what a difference he made that day.”
As it turns out, the Internet had no problem locating Roberto, the Disney cast member who helped make the day so magical for Eliza and Keira. But as O’Neill shared with Babble, Roberto’s reply to the praise was a humble one. “We as cast members are here to make magic and that’s what we do,” he said.
Roberto shared that he happened to see O’Neill’s post the same week he celebrated his 13th year working for Disney. As a veteran employee, Roberto seems to have an excellent understanding of his greatest job benefits.
“Seeing the joy the characters created is all the thanks I need,” he shared.
O’Neill tells Babble that he never realized this story would generate such amazing feedback, but is happy it has. His favorite comment so far came from a friend who said, “It’s such a good reminder that sometimes the smallest acts of kindness can leave the biggest impression.”
It certainly is.