SAN ANTONIO – Despite being more than 1,200 miles away from San Antonio and missing his daughter’s birthday for the first time, David Villegas was still able to put a smile on his baby girl’s face with a special Build-A-Bear gift.
Since he's away for basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, his wife, Vanessa, decided to surprise their daughter, Ellianna, with a bear dressed like her daddy in Army fatigues for her fifth birthday.
Upon opening the box, Ellianna noticed the bear “looked like daddy” but it’s her reaction to hearing her dad’s voice from it that has left Twitter users crying tears of joy.
“Hey baby, daddy loves you and misses you so, so much and I can’t wait for you to be in my arms again. I love you very much,” Villegas said in a recorded message.
Before hugging the bear tightly, Ellianna screams, “Oh my god, its daddy!”
The heartwarming moment was shared on Twitter by Vanessa’s sister and has since gone viral after being posted Wednesday evening.
The tweet has collected more than 15,000 retweets and gained over 30,000 likes in less than 24 hours with Villegas speechless about the overwhelming support from complete strangers.
“Everyone has been basically saying ‘Oh my gosh I’m crying’ (and) another girl was even like ‘I just put on my makeup and now it’s all over my face,'” Villegas told KSAT.com.
“There’s also a lot of people on Twitter saying that they wish they had that from their dad or their mom and if they can hear their loved ones voice one more time, it would have made their entire world,” Villegas said.
Shortly after getting married this past August on their seven-year anniversary, Villegas said her husband received his orders to attend basic training at Fort Jackson.
“We only had three weeks to spend with him before he had to leave and, of course, we have no contact with him … it’s basically he’s gone for nine weeks and a couple of days,” Villegas told KSAT.com. “And after that, he has to go again for longer and so he won’t be back until April (2018).”
Villegas told KSAT.com because it’s always been just the three of them for so long, her daughter has had a tough time adjusting to life temporarily without her father with many nights crying herself to sleep and missing her dad.
“It really meant a lot to give that to her so she can play it every time she misses him and it helps her a lot,” Villegas told KSAT.com. “It’s tough but in the end, I know it’ll be worth it.”
Villegas told KSAT.com they plan to visit her husband in November when he graduates from basic training and is looking forward to the moment when they brief him about their daughter becoming a social media celebrity.