'It meant a lot': Bladen County graduate asks deputy to be 'honorary dad' for graduation

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BLADENBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Bladen County deputy put down his badge and picked up an "honorary dad" title for a young woman's high school graduation in Bladen County.

On Friday, Corporal Matthew Long, a long time student resource officer at West Bladen High School, joined Amyia Williams for her big day.

"It meant a lot and my mom, she was very emotional about that. She was like, 'that is the sweetest thing ever,'" Williams said.

Williams tells ABC11 she was compelled to ask Long to join her graduation when she saw others doing the same for father-like figures in their life.

Several weeks before the graduation, when Long stopped by a Bladenboro Hardee's for lunch, Williams was working that afternoon and asked Long the question.

"She said, 'would you be my honorary dad for graduation?' and at first, I was stunned...I said, 'of course, I would love to!' trying to fight back the tears that I had because it moved me," Long recalled.

Williams says her father was killed when she was very young. During her high school years, Long, who has been a student resource officer for eight years and a deputy for 12 years, became a role model and mentor.

"I would usually go, get my food, and then I'll come back and talk to him, and we'll just have a great conversation until it's time for me to go to my next class," Williams said.

In a time where racial tension and the conversations of law enforcement's role in society are at a peak, Williams tells ABC11 their bond exemplifies the best of humanity.

"Don't let what others tell you or what you grow to learn over the years affect how you are as a person," Williams noted.

The longtime corporal says this heartwarming gesture shows what the role of law enforcement is supposed to be: protect, serve and sometimes, become an honorary dad.

Williams plans to attend Fayetteville State University in the fall and plans to keep in touch with Long.
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