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Student rescues cheerleader whose military dad couldn't attend performance

“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.”

SAN ANTONIO (WOAI) – A San Antonio family is thanking a young man for saving a little girl from a heartbreaking moment last weekend.

Addie Rodriguez, 9, was performing at a football game at Central Catholic High School when the other cheerleaders on her squad were joined by their fathers and lifted onto their shoulders. But Addie’s father wasn’t there.

“Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday,” said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie’s mother.

Addie’s father is Abel Rodriguez, a senior airman who’s currently training at Travis Air Force Base in California. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“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.”

Then, someone rushed toward Addie. That someone was Matthew Garcia, a senior at Central Catholic High School.

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

Matthew lifted Addie, a fourth grader at St. John Bosco Elementary School, onto his shoulders.

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

He served an emergency fill-in for Addie’s father who’s serving some 1,700 miles away.

“I just felt like somebody saved my life,” Addie said, adding: “I thought that's so nice, especially since my dad's serving for us.”

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