FRANKLIN, Ind. - A Franklin girl got the Christmas gift of a lifetime when her soldier father surprised her in front of her friends and classmates at school Wednesday.
Ella Smith had no idea that she was going to become the center of attention during a school assembly at Custer Baker Intermediate School.
As Grizz the mascot pumped up the crowd, the unsuspecting fifth-grader was called to center stage.
Smith’s dad had been deployed in Afghanistan since January and she said her top wish for Christmas was to have her dad back home.
Much to her complete surprise, she was able to cross that wish off her list when Grizz the mascot was revealed to be her dad.
"I felt so happy. I'm so glad that he would be here for the holidays and it has just really touched my heart," Smith said.
Staff Sgt. Ronald Smith has been in the military for 19 years. His family does not expect him to be redeployed any time soon.