An altruistic teen prevented a 9-year-old cheerleader from heartbreak when he rushed the field to serve as a fill-in during a parent-student performance while her father was away training for the Air Force.
Addie Rodriguez was performing at the Central Catholic High School in San Antonio when members of her squad were joined by their parents –- mothers first doing a routine with their daughters before fathers hoisted them up on their shoulders.
Addie soon burst into tears, as her father, Abel Rodriguez, was training as a medevac technician for the Air Force in California.
Upon seeing this, 17-year-old Matthew Garcia, a senior at the high school who was watching his brother play in the game, rushed down from the bleachers and carried Addie on his own shoulders.
Addie was “shocked” at first, but when Garcia told her he was going to pick her up, she was “really happy and thankful,” Rodriguez told NBC News.
The moment Garcia rushed the field was caught on cellphone video. He is seen jumping over two fences to be at Addie’s side.
Garcia said his parents’ own divorce made him empathetic to Addie’s situation.
“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,” Garcia said. “It was instinct, I guess. I just couldn’t see her like that.”
Garcia is the captain of his track team, a member of ROTC and the director of his school’s Big Brother program. He said seeing Addie smile made his day.
“When Addie thanked me after the game, it was just really moving to me.”