Chaffee Elementary Student Receives Very Special Surprise

Fifth grade students at Chaffee Elementary were gathered in the cafeteria on Friday as part of a history project involving retired NASA scientists and engineers, but a special surprise was in store for Kael Lancey.  His mother, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army that has been on deployment for almost a year, had just returned home and decided to surprise him at school.

Sgt. Desiree Lancey arrived in the cafeteria disguised as the school’s eagle mascot as students were singing the national anthem.  When they finished the song, she approached her son and removed the costume’s mask.  It took a moment for Kael to realize what was happening, but his surprise quickly became apparent when he ran into his mother’s arms.  The students, teachers, and NASA visitors applauded the pair as they witnessed the emotional event.

Sgt. Lancey has been working in Kuwait, teaching a leadership course to soldiers that would otherwise have to make the long trip back to the states.  She and Kael hadn’t seen each other in person since last Christmas, though they have managed to stay in touch via FaceTime.  She said that it was difficult to keep this a surprise because Kael would notice if the background image changed in the video chat, so she communicated to him through his dad for a couple of weeks. 

This was the third deployment for Sgt. Lancey.  She has previously been sent to both Iraq and Afghanistan.  “Being away from family has been kind of a struggle obviously,” Sgt. Lancey said, “but we have a great support system.”

It was very difficult for her to wait for the planned moment to reveal herself.  She says that she was so excited and nervous all morning, almost feeling like she couldn’t breathe.  “I just wanted to rip off that mascot head and go see my son,” Sgt. Lancey said.  The family noted that they had no idea it was going to be such a big event, but they were very thankful to the teachers and school for making it happen.

Kael was then checked out of school so he and his mother could spend the rest of the weekend together which, according to Sgt. Lancey, was going to include “lots of hugs.”

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