Army Sergeant Francesco Valenti has only been able to see his daughter Alexa for a total of 10 days in the past two years. But on Tuesday, the military dad gave his daughter the surprise of a lifetime.
When her name was called as a reading champ at an assembly at Lone Rock School in Stevensville, Missouri, the kindergartener thought the big pink box held a new bike or a very big doll.
Dressed for the part with a jeweled crown atop her head, Alexa headed towards the center of the gym to unwrap her prize. That's when her father popped out of the giant box tightly wrapped in pink paper.
"Hi beautiful, I'm home," he said.
She was initially left speechless, but then cheerfully blurted "daddy!"
"Um, I didn't know what ... what ... what was, why was my dad in there. I missed him so much," said Alexa.
Her fellow classmates presented welcome signs and the school sang as Alexa and her dad embraced and made up for so much lost time.
"Just to have her back in my arms, I wanted to do it in a special way," said Valenti.
Alexa's kindergarten teacher Julie Bauchman says that watching Alexa's face light up as her dad popped out of the box is something she will never forget.
"To see her with her dad, I mean, it just brought me to tears, and I was just beside myself," said Bauchman.
The two exchanged "I love you's."