A dedicated dad who was training at Travis Air Force Base in California received news that his nine-year-old daughter’s cheerleading squad was doing a special daddy-daughter routine. His daughter, Addie Rodriguez, started crying when she realized her father wouldn’t be able to make it because of the distance. While he wasn’t able to physically attend, he Facetimed into the event so he could watch and support his daughter from afar.

Although her father was training at the time, Addie – who participates in cheerleading at St. John Bosco Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas – really wanted him to attend the daddy-daughter event. Abel Rodriguez is a senior airman who has risked his life fighting for America across the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to KTLA, the fathers of cheerleaders are supposed to join their daughters on the field during football games and lift them onto their shoulders. Every other girl had her father there to do this with her, but Addie’s father was nowhere to be found, leaving her feeling embarrassed.

Alexis’s mother, Mrs. Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, said, “It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he’s away. It’s not just an absentee parent. He’s serving our country.”

Addie sobbed as she observed the other cheerleaders having fun with their fathers and daughters. She missed her dad a lot, especially because he was in the military and had to leave home for lengthy periods of time in order to train for war. It was tough for Addie to keep an eye on the other girls while their dads were together.

“I just felt like really sad because I missed him a lot,” said Addie.

However, a kind-hearted stranger named Matthew Garcia noticed Addie was in distress. He leapt over the fence and went right up to the nine-year-old girl to ask her if everything was okay.

Garcia said, “I ran down from the bleachers right here. I just hopped the fence, and I went over, and I kneeled down, I talked to her, and I said, ‘Are you OK?’”

Garcia figured out that Addie was missing her father, so he donned the man’s clothing and carried the nine-year-old girl on his shoulders to spare her feelings of being left out.

Although it would have been preferable for her father to perform the task, both Addie and her mother were grateful for the stranger’s act of compassion.

“I realized what he [Garcia] was doing, and my heart just melted,” said Alexis. “It was just the most beautiful thing.”

Garcia, a high school senior, was overjoyed that he could assist the little girl when she needed it most. Addie, on the other hand, was grateful beyond measure to her hero.

“I just felt like somebody saved my life,” said Addie.

“She’s really tough, and she understands that dad goes away for a reason,” said Alexis.