By EMILY SHAPIRO
An Ohio sheriff’s deputy’s quick stop at a lemonade stand turned into a moment 9-year-old Gabrielle will never forget.
On Monday, Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Zach Ropos stopped by the young girl’s lemonade stand while on patrol in Painesville, Ohio, about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland.
“I see a little girl come running up to my police car,” Ropos, 22, told ABC News today. “She hands me a glass, I hand her a few bucks. I asked her what she wanted to do with the money … she said she’d get an iPad, to help with school and play games.”
Ropos said he told the girl’s mother he had an old iPad at home he could bring them the next day.
“I went home that night, fired up the iPad, but it just wasn’t updated anymore … nothing really worked on it,” Ropos explained.
The next day, Ropos found a store that agreed to contribute to the cost of a tablet with him. Later Tuesday, Ropos met up with Gabrielle and her mother.
“I talked to the little girl, gave her a speech about how courageous and admirable I think her efforts were to save up her money,” Ropos said. “I asked her how much she saved up, and she said she only had a few dollars.”
Gabrielle explained to Ropos that her mother’s car ran out of gas, so the child gave up her hard-earned money to fill the tank.
“When she told me she gave the money to her mom … that’s when I almost started crying because of how great of a kid she really was,” Ropos said.
Ropos handed over the tablet in a sweet moment captured on camera by a co-worker.
“She just wouldn’t stop hugging me,” Ropos said.
“Seeing her face is how I remember Christmas when I was 5 years old. She couldn’t stop smiling,” Ropos said. “Her smile was worth a million dollars.”
Ropos said he’s worked at the sheriff’s office for eight months. His boss, Lake County Sheriff Dan Dunlap, told ABC News today, “He’s always liked to do stuff for people, and now it’s part of his job.”
“He’s a really good guy,” Dunlap added of Ropos. “He’s done such a good job here.”
“It’s not as though this is the first time something has happened,” Dunlap said, citing when two deputies bought a child a bike several months ago. “And you’re really not supposed to brag about your good deeds. But there’s been so much negativity about law enforcement … that a sergeant on his shift heard about what was going on and decided to take a picture.”
Dunlap has not personally spoken with Gabrielle and her mother, but said, “I was told both the mom and girl were in tears. Tears of appreciation and joy. From what the deputy said, they were surprised and extremely grateful.”
Dunlap said he always tells graduating classes, “If you pass a kid’s lemonade stand, buy a lemonade. You don’t have to drink it. If you see an old person’s garden, acknowledge it. There’s plenty of chances in police work to be kind. [Ropos] took it the extra step.”