“I had to make it happen for her:” High school graduate gets diploma & HUGE surprise

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(CNN) — There was some extra excitement on Sunday, May 25th at a Grand Forks, North Dakota high school graduation ceremony! One graduate got her diploma — and a BIG SURPRISE!

The Central High School graduation ceremony started out like any other — with speeches, music, and of course, handing out diplomas.

Proud parents watched on, but for one student — something was missing: her father.

“I don’t think I really realized that he wasn’t going to be here until he called me because it was the same number that he’s been calling me from the past five months,” Taylor Crafton said.

Crafton’s father is a member of the Air Force. He had been deployed to Cuba months prior.

The Craftons didn’t think Taylor’s father Chris would be able to make it so they had a cardboard cutout made.

“My mom’s friend — she made it for us back in Virginia and sent it to us for prom and for graduation so he could still be here in spirit,” Taylor Crafton said.

As it turned out — they didn’t actually need the cardboard cutout at graduation.

Her father surprised her at the ceremony.

“I’m just so happy he’s here. Better than a car — better than anything. So yeah, that’s all I wanted for graduation,” Taylor Crafton said.

Since Taylor was three months old, Chris has gone through nine deployments.

“For a total of about 1,782 days to be exact over the years. She’s missed a lot. I’ve missed a lot. You know, birthdays, Christmas — that kind of thing. So I just tried my best to get here for when she graduated. This is my last deployment so I had to make it happen,” Chris Crafton said.

This wasn’t just a surprise for Taylor!

No one in the Crafton family knew Chris would make it to the graduation ceremony.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing I have to do for her — so I’m just glad it happened,” Chris Crafton said.

1 Comment

  • Oldie

    So happy for him and his family..that was beautiful. Best wishes to you in life young lady, you have your entire life ahead of you…Enjoy it, explore the world..have a blast :) Mr. Crafton, Thank you for your service!!

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