In February 2016, one Texas Air Force veteran was diagnosed with an incurable progressive disorder that has left him dependent on a motorized wheelchair.
“His legs are losing strength every day [and] his balance is almost gone,” wife Christy Sanchez said about her husband Frankie Sanchez Sr., who served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 22 years and has been battling the effects of ALS. “There is no treatment and there is no cure. We live with those thoughts every day.”
Despite his diagnosis, Frankie promised his son, Frankie Sanchez Jr., that nothing would keep him from his Air Force graduation. “My father has been and will always be my best friend and right-hand man,” Frankie Jr. said. “I can always count on him for anything. Before leaving to basic training, we made a promise to one another. We promised that if I finish basic training on time that he would be there to see me graduate and tap me out.”
But the night before Frankie Jr.’s graduation from basic training on May 25th, everything nearly fell apart when Frankie’s breathing machine stopped working and he ended up in the emergency room. “The doctors told my husband that without a new breathing machine, he should not leave the hospital – it would be fatal if he tried to check out and leave,” Christy said. “We were going to miss the ceremony. We both sobbed all night long. We were completely devastated.”
But early the next morning, a respiratory therapist arrived with a working machine just in time for them to make it to the ceremony and for Frankie to fulfill his promise. “We knew that ‘tap out’ was going to be special,” said Christy. “As parents, we sacrifice so much for our children — our own needs get put aside for the betterment of our kids. Getting to that ceremony was the most important thing in our minds. We are so grateful to the entire hospital staff and the company that brought us a new machine so we could make it in time for the tap out.”
“For me personally, it was more than just a tap out. It was the father and son bond that we’ve shared ever since I was a little boy. To see that man get up out of his wheelchair and walk on his own two inadequate legs was beyond honorable,” Frankie Jr. said. “It was the most beautiful and memorable event I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I will never forget it as long as I live,” Christy said. “We cry every day, but we also dance, and laugh, and enjoy every minute we have together, just like we always have.”
Watch the entire video below to see the touching moment this dad kept his promise despite relying on a wheelchair for a year.
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[Featured image: Christy Thomas Sanchez]