A soldier dad planned a clever surprise reunion for his daughter during her school presentation, making it appear that their Zoom call had ‘disconnected,’ only to then appear in her classroom.
Charlie Trader, 12, was making the end-of-day presentation to her classmates at Reagan Middle School, in Dixon, Illinois, not knowing that the subject if the talk – her father, Seth Wiggins, 35, a tech sergeant with the United States Air National Guard – was actually just a few doors down.
Seth had recently returned from a two-and-a-half-month deployment in Guam, and before his return, he had contacted Charlie’s school to ask if they might be able to help him plan a surprise reunion for his daughter.
So Charlie’s end-of-day teacher and her principal suggested they create a faux presentation for the 12-year-old, asking her to talk to the class about her father’s deployment and work in the military.
As part of this plan, Charlie was also told that the presentation would be the first of its kind in the school: a chance for pupils to talk to their parents about their interesting careers, with a video link then allowing Charlie and her classmates to ask Seth questions, despite the 16-hour time difference to Guam.
On March 6, Charlie stood up in front of the class, where she spoke about her father’s military career while Seth watched on.
When it was time to open the presentation up to questions for Seth, that was the cue for the call to suddenly “disconnect.”
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Seth – who had cleared out a nearby room to make the backdrop look like he was still overseas – then started to make his way through the halls of the school, eventually reaching Charlie’s classroom for the big surprise.
As soon as the 12-year-old saw her father, she immediately started to cry happy tears, making it through the middle of her classmates for an emotional hug with her father.
The sweet reaction, Seth said, was likely caused by the fact he didn’t tell Charlie or his family that he was set to return home earlier than planned.
Charlie’s mom, Seth’s mom, school staff and Seth’s girlfriend captured the wholesome reunion on video – both inside the classroom and in the room where Seth was taking the call – and the 35-year-old later shared the clip on his TikTok page.
Seth said: “Spending several months without my little best friend, who I’m used to seeing every day, was a big challenge emotionally.
“We’re truly best friends, and she is definitely a daddy’s girl, if ever there was one.
“So, just seeing her was the first prize for me.
“But then seeing how moved and relieved she was, I can’t even describe the magnitude of heartfelt appreciation that surfaced.”