Soldier Surprise: Matthew Sanford

The Sanford family poses with teacher McDaniel, after surprising her with flowers
By: Samantha Seidel
One Facebook message sent to Killeen ISD about one special teacher, led to a surprise reunion of a family of six Friday morning.
Staff Sargent Matthew Sanford had just spent the last 12 hours on a plane travelling back from Korea. Arriving last night around 10:00pm, he hadn’t been able to sleep because he was too excited to surprise his four children.
“I face-timed them all the time, but it’s not the same as being able to hug and love on them,” he stated. Natalie hugs her dad as she smiles at her mom.“We have never done a home coming like this before. We are so excited to surprise them.”
A simple message to Killeen ISD’s Facebook page written by military wife Caren Sanford illustrated the difficulties of the military family and how one teacher went above and beyond the call of duty.
“LaNessa McDaniel teaches our seven-year-old son Lucas at Meadows Elementary,” she wrote. “She didn’t have to do a single thing other than teach our son, but she did so much more.

“This has been our fifth and hardest deployment, and she has shown me and my family so much love. She is not only changing the lives of her students, but she has changed mine as well.”
The family began the round of surprises at Audie Murphy Middle School, where their eldest daughter Natalie 12, was called to come down to the library due to an "overdue book".
Walking into the library the student saw her father and with a huge grin walked to him. He wrapped her into a hug.
“This doesn’t feel real,” she said. “I knew I didn’t have an overdue book,” she said smiling.
With Natalie in tow, the group madeKinsley reaches out as her dad picks her up. their way to Meadows Elementary to surprise, Kourtnie 10, Lucas 7, and Kinsley 3.  
One by one they were brought into the library where Sanford was hiding behind a bookcase. Kinsley said, “Daddy!” as she stretched up her arms to her father.
Lucas wrapped his dad up into a big bear hug, and vivacious Kourtnie sprinted around the table screaming in celebration.
“I feel complete.” Caren Sanford said. “Not having your best friend with you is sKourtnie sprints around the table to get to her dad.o hard, but I have a strong network of friends here and Mrs. McDaniel has also been so supportive and encouraging through this eight-month deployment.”  
McDaniel walked in to greet the family, not realizing that she was, in fact, the final surprise of the day. The Sanford’s hugged the teacher and handed her a bouquet of flowers and an orchid.
“I just wanted to say thank you,” stated Caren Sanford. “You have been so wonderful and supportive of me and my family. We love you.”
McDaniel smiled through her tears. Holding Caren Sanford’s hand, the teacher was at a loss for words.
“Being a mom myself and a teacher to military families I see how hard this is on both the students and parents. I am so happy for your both,” she said.
The family went in for a group hug, and before long the kids were asking to go home with dad.
“I have eight months of Pokémon to catch up on with Lucas,” Matthew said. “And we have some movies to watch too.”
When asked what they were going to do as a family first, the answer was simple.
“We are going to go home, order food and just spend time together. I am so happy to be back with them.” Matthew Sanford said.
Caren hands the teacher a bouquet of flowers.      Lucas hugs his dad.      The group hugs each other as a family.

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