"That watch meant a lot to me. It was special to me and that young man was special to me right away, so I wanted to do that for him.”
It was a hot summer day in downtown St. Louis when Shay Gillespie, her 9-year-old son, Diggy, and his older brother set out to give food and water to the city’s homeless. Two police officers joined them to make sure everything went smoothly.
Diggy was immediately drawn to one of the two police officers assigned to escort them, officer Chad Cross. Diggy has Down syndrome, and as his mother explained to Fox 2 Now, people are often drawn to him. It’s more rare for Diggy to be drawn to another.
At the end of the day Cross got something out of his car for Diggy. Cross, who spent eight years in the Marines and served three deployments abroad, gave Diggy the watch he wore every day while he was deployed in Iraq.
WATCH: Texas Police Officers On Patrol Stop To Mow Disabled Veteran's Lawn
"That watch meant a lot to me. It was special to me and that young man was special to me right away, so I wanted to do that for him," Cross told Fox 2 Now.
Diggy was ecstatic.
"It definitely impacted both of my kids and that's what you want in life," Gillespie told the station. "You want things to impact them in a positive way."
Cross' mentor and friend, Bryan Guidry, told Fox 2 Now that he’s not surprised by the gesture. Despite Cross’ tough exterior—he’s an MMA fighter—he’s all heart.
"I've known Chad for years. I know that he did a tour in Iraq and part of his mission was to win over the hearts and minds of individuals and that is no different than some of his jobs everyday here on the streets of St. Louis," said Guidry.