Stranger Hops Fence, Then He Runs Toward Lone Cheerleader

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A young cheerleader broke down when her Air Force dad couldn’t make a parents’ day event. However, everything completely changed when a complete stranger abruptly hopped the fence and quickly made his way toward her.

Addie Rodriguez
Addie Rodriguez. (Photo Credit: Alexis Perry-Rodriguez)

Addie Rodriguez was nine years old when she performed with her cheerleading team at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, Texas. On this special day, the girls’ parents joined them on the field. After the mothers did a routine with their daughters, the fathers came out of the stands to lift the girls on their shoulders for a father-daughter cheer.

Addie’s father, 25-year-old Abel Rodriguez, an Air Force medevac tech, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California and couldn’t make it. For the elementary school cheerleader, who was missing her military father, it was a heartbreaking moment. However, that all changed when a stranger took notice and decided to hop over the fence.

Matthew Garcia, 17, hopped over the fence. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Addie sobbed as she thought about her dad, but what occurred next wiped her tears away: Matthew Garcia, a senior at Central Catholic High School, raced down from the bleachers, hopped over the fence, and put her on his shoulders like all of the fathers on the field. “I just broke into tears when I realized what he was doing,” Addie’s mother, Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, 25, said. “I couldn’t even talk.”

At the time these events occurred, Abel Rodriguez had been in the military for nearly seven years, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, but his absence hit Addie especially hard that day. However, Matthew was there to ensure she remembered the game for a different reason.

Abel Rodriguez (left) wasn’t able to attend the game with his daughter, Addie Rodriguez. (Photo Credit: Alexis Perry-Rodriguez)

“(Addie) was kind of shocked and scared at first, but then when he knelt down to tell her, ‘I’m going to pick you up, too,’ she was really happy and thankful,” Alexis Perry-Rodriguez said. “She said, ‘He saved my life, Mom!’ He made her feel so good about herself.”

Matthew was at the game, which pitted St. Luke Catholic School against St. John Bosco Elementary School, where Addie was a fourth-grader at the time. Matthew said that growing up during his parents’ divorce before his mother remarried made him sensitive to Addie’s plight.

Addie Rodriguez
Matthew Garcia came to the rescue of cheerleader Addie Rodriguez. (Photo Credit: Alexis Perry-Rodriguez)

Matthew Garcia knew firsthand what Addie was feeling at that moment, and he wanted to make it better. He couldn’t just sit and watch from the stands. “I understood what it was like to not have a dad there, so when I saw her crying like that, it just struck a chord with me,” he explained. “It was instinct, I guess. I just couldn’t see her like that.”

To thank him for his kindness, Alexis Perry-Rodriguez posted a picture of Matthew and Addie from the game on her Facebook page. “He was a complete stranger who was there watching the opposing team, and he still did that,” she said. “It was so heartbreaking at first and then just so beautiful.”

Addie Rodriguez
Matthew Garcia said helping out Addie Rodriguez “probably made my day even more than hers.” (Photo Credit: Alexis Perry-Rodriguez)

Impressively, Matthew Garcia was the captain of the cross-country team at Central Catholic, a four-year member of the ROTC program, and the director of the school’s Big Brother program. More importantly, he could add a heartfelt thank you from a young girl and her parents to his resume.

“Seeing her smile after the way she was crying, that probably made my day even more than hers, to be honest with you,” Matthew said. “When Addie thanked me after the game, it was just really moving to me.” A heartbreaking moment was turned into an uplifting scene, and it’s all thanks to a kind gesture from a high school student who couldn’t just sit and watch a young girl cry.