Soldier surprises daughter’s class

Published 1:14 pm Monday, December 12, 2011

Kylee Hepworth smiles after her dad, Lt. Hepworth, surprised her in her first-grade class at Calera Elementary School on Dec. 12. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

CALERA – A first-grader at Calera Elementary School got her Christmas wish Dec. 12.

For the last several weeks, whenever somebody asked Kylee Hepworth what she wanted for Christmas, the 6-year-old always gave the same reply: “My daddy in a box.”

When Kylee Hepworth and her fellow students in Shannon Montgomery’s class returned from lunch, there was a large box wrapped in Christmas paper in the corner of the classroom.

Lt. Hepworth surprises his daughter, Kylee, and son, Carsen, by popping out of a box during Kylee's class at Calera Elementary School. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

With help from her older brother, Kylee lifted the box and saw her dad standing there with a bouquet of flowers.

Lt. Ryan Hepworth, a 1996 graduate of Thompson High School, is on a one-month block leave from serving with the Army in Afghanistan.

Back in July, Kylee began asking her dad when he was going to be home. He said he would be home around Christmas.

“This is when she started mentioning that Santa Claus was going to bring me in a box,” Lt. Hepworth said. “I decided to make it happen.

“It was great (surprising her),” he added. “I hadn’t seen my kids’ faces in so long. It’s just amazing.”

Kylee said she was “happy” to see her dad in the box. She said she knew her dad was in the box as soon as she saw it.

Carsen Hepworth, 12, said it was nice to see his dad again.

“It was cool,” Carsen said of the surprise.

Makenzie Hepworth said it’s been tough raising the kids with her husband away. The couple also has a third child – Colby, 14.

“It’s good to see them back with their daddy,” Makenzie Hepworth said. “I got my Christmas present.”