CHICAGO, IL (NBC News) — Kristi Flury’s dad is a captain in the United States Army Reserve. When he began a military deployment in October, the 12 year old started missing him like crazy.
Kristi said she was crying on her birthday and at her cheer competitions because it felt like a part of her was missing.
So when her mom fulfilled her wish for a surprise reunion with her dad, which came during the dolphin show at the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago last week, Kristi took off running and joyfully leaped into his arms. As they embraced, the rest of the world seemed to slip away during the teary reunion that brought a cheering crowd to its feet.
“I just jumped into his arms and it was just me and him and nothing else was around me,” Kristi told TODAY. “It was awesome. I felt like a piece of me was back.”
“As soon as she saw me, she nudged her mom out of the way, came running and she was full sprint,” said her dad, Josh Flury, a captain in the United States Army Reserve. “As she jumped, she was in my arms and she was squeezing and I was squeezing. It was euphoric.”
Kristi’s mom, April Flury, had arranged for her and her daughter to be chosen as volunteers during the dolphin show just before the big dad reveal. Josh was nervous as he waited backstage. But everything changed when his name was announced and he saw the wide-eyed look on Kristi’s face.
“As soon as I saw her, I forgot everything was around me,” said Flury, 36. “The crowd disappeared, the pool disappeared. It was just me and her, and it’s difficult to describe, but it’s probably the best feeling a person can have after nine months of not seeing someone they love.”
In his dress uniform, including leather shoes with no traction, the 6-foot-2 Flury braced himself to keep from falling.
“It felt like she hit me with a ton of bricks,” he said, adding that the shoulder boards on his uniform fell off in the commotion. “It was joy, excitement and everything rolled into one.”