Let me start with some background:
Myself and my girlfriend had been planning our vacation for several months. Everything was going just fine until Sept. 11th. Nicole was at "ground zero" when everything happened. A life shattering experience for all those involved as well as our country. We struggled long and hard with our decision to continue with the trip. We both agreed that the trip was much needed and that somehow Nicole was able to get over the new found fear of flying.
As we arrived in Orlando we began to se some guests and Cast members with the "American Flag Mickey" pin. We searched high and low looking for at least one of these special pins. They were no where to be found anywhere!!! I asked several cast members where they had gotten them and each was sorry to say that the pin was sold out and would not be getting more until next month. However I did not give up my quest to find this special Pin for Nicole as I knew it would mean the world to her.
The very last day of our trip we decided to return to the Magic Kingdom. Of course as the name states this is where all the magic does happen and we both enjoy this park above all others. We entered the gate and went through all the newly implemented security checkpoints. As we passed under the bridge and into main street our vacation was about to become magical.
I spotted Dean Standing on Main Street handing out Park maps and answering questions. I noticed he had an American Flag Mickey pin so of course I went to ask if he knew of anywhere we could find them. Now during the conversation with Dean I realized what a wonderful man we had just met. Dean was no ordinary cast member. He was not in Costume. He was in a shirt and tie. This should have set bells off in my mind right away but it didn't. Dean shared with us that his pin was very special to him as it was given to him by a member of New York's Bravest, a Firefighter that was also involved personally with the rescue efforts, a real hero!
As we shared stories with Dean, He became so happy just to be standing there talking to Nicole. You could see in his face he was genuinely happy and touched just that she was alive. He began by going above and beyond by telling us that he would take our names and address and send us a pin when the new shipment arrived. Dean then extended himself even further and asked Nicole and myself to be the GRAND MARSHALLS for the afternoon parade. As I stood in Awe, Nicole and Dean shared a hug and a very special day was about to commence.
Nicole and I walked around the park for a couple hours until we needed to report for the Parade line-up. We again met Dean he led us and another VIP family backstage where we were joined by Golddust Gus (more on him in another post) the Main Street Philharmonic band, and of course the vehicles that we got to ride in. Dean shared Nicole's story with a couple of the individuals backstage and they all were sooo happy to meet us. Much to our surprise Dean had again gone above and beyond and had magically found one of the American Flag Mickey pins we were looking for and presented it to Nicole. I was so thankful to dean and everyone this was the most amazing day of our life...but it gets better.
We did the parade and at the end of the route we took pictures with Dean and thanked him profusely. We were so appreciative. Then off to Dean's right a man appeared along the parade route. Dean Flagged him to come over and he introduced us. This was that Firefighter that he had gotten the Pin from. It was an emotional moment I will never forget. I got to get to shake the hand of a Real Live HERO. Nicole and him Hugged as I think there was barely a dry eye in the group...this was the most amazing moment of the whole day. (And maybe of my life)
Dean is truly one of Walt's Legacies and a special person who deserves to be well honored as not only a cast member but as a Human being. My heartfelt thanks go out to him for making our lives just a wonderful.