After almost a year away from his children, Sergeant Johnathan Walz spent surprised them during the Ed-Co vs. North Linn football game on Friday, Sept. 14.
As KCRG reports, Walz’ daughter had just accepted a check for nearly $10,000 to send care packages overseas to her father’s National Guard unit and the organization Retrieving Freedom, which trains service dogs up to work with veterans with PTSD. Meanwhile, her father was hiding out behind the bleachers on the opposing team’s side of the field.
“Just waiting and watching the clock, it was the longest five minutes of a football game,” Walz told KCRG.
The soldier came up from behind his daughter Zoe, a 6th-grader, who ran into his arms and cried as soon as she realized who it was.
“At first I just thought it was just a dream,” she said.
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Zoe had been selling “R.E.D. Friday” T-shirts to raise money for the care packages. She understands the challenges soldiers face overseas, especially her father’s, and wanted to help in any way she could.
You can’t get a lot of stuff over there, like in Iraq and Kuwait, so we thought it’d be helpful to send stuff over there,” she said.
R.E.D. Friday is a movement that began in 2005, with the intention of promoting awareness of troops deployed overseas. R.E.D. stands for “Remember Everyone Deployed. Zoe uses different R.E.D. Friday designs to decorate her shirts, which have been quite popular around her school ever since the 105th Iowa Army National Guard unite from eastern Iowa was sent off 12 months ago.
She’s made a difference, and her father knows it.
“I’m extremely proud of her,” Walz said.
See this thrilling homecoming in the video below!
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.