There was an unexpected guest in the center ring at this year’s July 4th Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the AT&T Center.
McKenley, 10, thought she was there because she had been chosen to introduce the ringmaster.
“Eh, I don’t think its that much of a big deal,” she said before the show started.
But her feelings about that soon changed.
After McKenley’s introduction, to her surprise, the ringmaster brought out her soldier dad, Ken, who just returned from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
"She always loved watching the homecoming shows, and so I wanted to surprise her that way,” said Ken, who asked that his family’s last name and his rank not be revealed for safety reasons. McKenley was expecting her dad to return home July 9. This was his third deployment.
"After everything I’ve done and everything we do for the country, and the sacrifices that she and my wife make, to be able to give that moment to her is just amazing,” said Ken.
"I just want to be with him,” McKenley said. “Just to snuggle with him.”