ROTC Teen Lifts Spirits Of Crying Cheerleader Missing Her Military Dad

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ROTC Teen Lifts Spirits Of Crying Cheerleader Missing Her Military Dad
by Scott Stump
A heartbreaking moment for an elementary school cheerleader missing her military father turned into an uplifting scene thanks to a kind gesture from a high school student in the stands.

Addie Rodriguez, 9, was performing with her team during a game on the field at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio last weekend when the girls were joined by their parents. After the mothers did a routine with their daughters, the fathers came out of the stands to hoist them on their shoulders for a special cheer.

Addie's father, 25-year-old Abel Rodriguez, a medevac tech in the Air Force, is in training at Travis Air Force Base in California and couldn't be there.

Addie burst into tears thinking of him, but what happened next wiped them away: Matthew Garcia, a senior at Central Catholic, ran down from the bleachers and hoisted her on his shoulders like all the other fathers.

Alexis Perry-Rodriguez

"I just broke into tears when I realized what he was doing,'" Addie's mother, Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, 25, told TODAY. "I couldn't even talk."

Abel Rodriguez has been in the military for almost seven years, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, but his absence particularly hit home that day for Addie, who is the couple's only child.

Garcia, 17, was there to make sure she remembered the game for a different reason.

Alexis Perry-Rodriguez

Central Catholic High School senior Matthew Garcia said helping out Addie "probably made my day even more than hers."

"(Addie) was kind of shocked and scared at first, but then when he knelt down to tell her, 'I'm going to pick you up, too,' she was really happy and thankful,'' Rodriguez said. "She said, 'He saved my life, mom!' He made her feel so good about herself."

Garcia was there watching his younger brother play in the game for St. Luke Catholic School against St. John Bosco Elementary School, where Addie is a fourth-grader. Garcia said going through his parents' divorce when he was a small child before his mother remarried made him sympathetic to Addie's situation.

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