The rush of running onto the field; the exhilaration of the roar of the crowd. The jitters before a big game.
Eight-year-old Russell Boynton might have felt just a hint of these before his homecoming game Saturday, Sept. 24. Then came the two big, strong hands scooping him off the ground and into a tight embrace.
Russell's dad—a truck driver with the U.S. Army 594th Transportation Company—was home after six months in Afghanistan, and he even made it before kickoff. Dustin Boynton wouldn't have missed Russell's game for anything in the world. When Oak Forest Raiders staff heard of Dustin's planned return, they and Russell's mom Kristi Schaefer made some plans of their own.
Dustin arrived in full fatigues and waited in the crowd as the players' mothers lined up on the 50-yard line. The announcer read off each name and the players ran out to greet their mothers. Dustin blended into the crowd until Russell made his way onto the field.
Dustin surprised Russell on the field, and Patch captured the moment on video.