Woman changes last name to honor stepfather who raised her since she was 3 years old

PHOTO: Albany, Georgia man Vincent Raven with his step-daughter, Candace Terry.PlayCandace Terry
WATCH Woman gets name changed to honor stepfather who raised her

One woman's gift to her stepfather brought tears to his eyes -- she's changing her last name to honor him.

Candace Terry was raised by her stepfather, Vincent Raven. Terry's mother, Terri Raven, met the ordained preacher at a grocery store in 1997. Three months later, they were engaged to be married after Raven, 46, proposed on Valentine's Day to his now-wife of 20 years at church.

The two had an immediate connection, Terry told ABC News.

"I just clung to him," Terry recalled of when she met him at just 3 years old. "I would sit on his lap and joke and have fun. That’s how he knew that [my mom] Terri was the one. I just kind of lit up his life."

PHOTO: Candace Terry with her step-father, Vincent Raven.Candace Terry
Candace Terry with her step-father, Vincent Raven.

Vincent Raven agreed, telling ABC News, "I love Candace and I know she loves me. She is mine. I’ve raised her since she was 3 and now she’s 24. Blood is thicker than water, but I think love is thicker than anything else."

Usually Terry gives her stepdad gag gifts on Christmas. But this year, she decided to give him something a bit more sentimental. The recent Valdosta State University graduate wanted to change her last name to Raven, even heading to her local courthouse to file the paperwork.

"My dad has been there and the fact that he didn’t have to do that means a lot," Terry said. "He didn’t have to step in and treat me like his own."

PHOTO: Vincent Raven with his step-daughter, Candace Terry, and his wife, Terri Raven on Terrys graduation day last year.Candace Terry
Vincent Raven with his step-daughter, Candace Terry, and his wife, Terri Raven on Terry's graduation day last year.

Although it'll take a few more weeks for the name change to be official, Terry gifted Vincent Raven an Atlanta Falcons mug with a letter describing what she had done. Opening the gift in front of their extended family, a viral video capturing the moment shows Vincent Raven breaking down into tears.

"It was so unexpected because ... I’ve never really pressed the issue to changing her name legally to Raven. I mentioned it to her one time when she was 13 or 14 because I didn’t want her to feel excluded. I wanted her to feel included."

Vincent Raven continued, getting choked up, "For her to think that much of me to have my name -- I’m getting teary-eyed about it now -- it's very touching."

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