A month before his show in North Little Rock, representatives for singer Bruno Mars reached out to North Little Rock police officer Tommy Norman with a request.
Mars, a five-time Grammy winner, wanted to meet Norman, the veteran officer whose social media posts about his work in the community have turned him into a viral star.
Mars gave Norman 25 floor seats to the Verizon Arena show, which Norman then distributed to children in the community. And on Sunday, the night of the show, the superstar singer hosted the whole group backstage, giving each child a gift bag of goodies, popcorn and an autographed hat. And he wasn't done: Mars also donated $10,000 in Foot Locker gift cards that Norman will use to buy shoes for disadvantaged children in the community over the next several months, Norman said.
"His only request was that I go get shoes and surprise kids with them," Norman said.
Norman said Mars' tour manager arranged the meeting, telling the officer that Mars is a "big fan" of Norman's social media posts. His Instagram feed, which has more than 1 million followers, shows Norman interacting with members of the North Little Rock community. Posts on it draw thousands of likes, views and comments every day.
Norman handpicked children from the community to go the concert, including one girl battling leukemia and another with bone cancer. They didn't find out until Sunday that the outing would also include some time before the show with Mars himself.
Mars talked with the group for awhile, even mentioning by name two children who make frequent appearances in Norman's posts. One girl, overcome with emotions, started crying.
In a post on his own Instagram feed, Mars thanked Norman "for bringing these lil rockstars to the show tonight."
"You’re a real life super hero in my eyes," Mars wrote. "Thank you for everything you do for these kids and your community. I pray that other officers look at your Instagram page and it inspires them. It definitely inspires me."
Norman, who noted he arranged the meet-and-greet and attended the show as an individual and not in his capacity as an officer, called Mars an icon and said the subsequent show ended up being the "best concert I've ever been to."
"And for him to even know who we are is awesome," he said. '