A family in Stow, Ohio, got the surprise of a lifetime during a high school football game over the weekend.
Sgt. First Class Michael Jarosz has been deployed in Kuwait with the National Guard for the past 18 months, according to News 5 Cleveland.
That changed Friday night thanks to some help from the community.
Jarosz’s daughter, Erica, was drumming with the Stow-Munroe Falls High School band at halftime. After the performance she and her family were pulled in front of the crowd, WTSP reported.
“I thought I was in trouble, I really did,” she recalled. “I started freaking out, I thought someone in my family passed and I was freaking out.”
However, when someone removed the Bulldog mascot’s head, it was not a student wearing the costume, but her beloved dad who was not supposed to come home until next week.
The crowd erupted in cheers and applauded as the family hugged each other and cried, overjoyed to be together again after such a long separation.
“We needed this,” said Jarosz’s wife, Jen, who helped plan the surprise.
“It’s like heart-warming, it’s like a tear-jerking moment. It’s hard to explain. You can’t put it into words, it’s just a good feeling,” her husband commented.
The sergeant does not like a lot of attention but told the Akron Beacon Journal it was worth it, especially for his younger children.
“Hopefully, they don’t knock me down,” he said prior to the event.
Jarosz will be at home until his next deployment, but noted he did not know when that would happen.
In the meantime, he and his family will enjoy their time together.
“It’s a feel-good story that a lot of people need right now,” said Stow Athletic Director Cyle Feldman, who also helped plan the reunion.