It was “parents’ day” for the cheerleaders. But one little girl, 9-year-old Addie Rodriguez, was feeling a little left out.
Her mom, Alexis Perry, was there to support her daughter, but Rodriguez’s father was deployed with the military.
Her dad, Abel Rodriguez, a senior airman in the Air Force, had to miss the event to complete training.
“The moms did a cheer with their daughters and I was there, so I smiled with her and took a picture and hugged her,” Perry told ABC News. “When I saw the dads lining up I said, ‘Oh my gosh. What am I going to do?’ The girls would recite the cheer and the dads would follow along with a trick and the girls would get picked up on their dads’ shoulders.
But Addie didn’t have anyone. My poor baby. It was the worst.”
Rodriguez began to cry, but that’s when a high school senior saw her. It was 18-year-old Matthew Garcia. Garcia noticed Rodriguez was crying and hopped the fence.
He ran out onto the field to console the little girl. He didn’t realize it was such a huge gesture until he got a round of applause from the audience.
“I ran down the bleachers and hopped down near the fence,” Garcia told ABC News. “I asked, ‘Do you mind if I pick you up?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I turned and saw the crowd clapping. I would consider doing that every time. It isn’t anything special. After the game, she came up to me and said, ‘Thank you so much’ and gave me a hug. We took a picture and she had the biggest smile on her face.”
Grateful for teenager’s thoughtful gesture, the parents plan on supporting him at one of his cross-country meets.
Please SHARE if you think Matthew Garcia made a great stand-in for little Abbie Rodriguez’s dad that day.
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