Cassie Whelan thought she’d be spending her very first Mother’s Day without dad.
Cassie has been parenting solo for much of the past year, ever since her husband Sgt. Josh Sarpu was deployed to Iraq. It was difficult enough for the young wife to say goodbye to her husband, a medevac crew chief for the National Guard, but their situation was made even harder by the fact that Cassie was six months pregnant with their first child when Josh left.
Cassie leaned heavily on her friends and family as she finished her pregnancy and gave birth without her husband by her side. After baby Savanna Belle Sarpu was born, Cassie even taped up pictures of Josh on the nursery wall so that everyone could see her husband and understand why he couldn’t be at home with his family.
The young mom threw herself into raising her daughter, chatting with Josh by Skype whenever his schedule would allow. She was brave and strong every day, but when Savanna was just four months old she got sick and Cassie felt despair for the first time. Cassie’s brother Sean Whelan explained that Savanna’s eyes became swollen shut and the baby was crying inconsolably. The only thing that would make the infant stop crying was hearing her daddy’s voice on video recordings Cassie played for her.
Cassie was excited to see her husband return in May just after Mother’s Day, but her brother and best friend Stephanie Fuschetti secretly made sure that Cassie’s first Mother’s Day would not be spent solo. The two teamed up with Cassie’s mother to nominate her for a special Mother’s Day event on “Good Morning America,” enabling them to surprise her just days away from the big day.
“GMA” host Michael Strahan introduced Cassie and her family and friends to the world on a very special segment, immediately letting Cassie know that she hadn’t been invited because her friend won a contest after all. Instead, her family had a chance to praise her for her sacrifice for the past year, bringing Josh onto Skype so that he could express his joy and sorrow as well.
Just a few moments into the interview with Josh we learned that he was not at a military base in Texas, as we’d thought. No — he was backstage waiting to surprise his wife and new baby!
Josh couldn’t wait to come out and give Cassie a huge hug before turning his attention to his baby girl. Amazingly he was able to pick her up right away without the infant complaining, probably because she’d heard his voice and seen him on Skype so often!
“I thought I would spend [Mother’s Day] alone,” Cassie said as she wiped away the tears. “It’s going to be even better now.”
As we sit in our comfortable homes it’s all too easy to forget that there are military service people working all over the globe to protect our liberty. Seeing a family like this one finally getting the reunion they deserve is so heartwarming! We hope Josh is able to stay home for a long time to get to know his beautiful daughter.
Watch the joyful reunion in the video below, and be sure to share .