When Stevie Stroud, 11, of Chicago, walked to his parents' car after school last Friday, he got a surprise that caused him to break down in tears.
Sitting in the backseat of the car was Stevie's best friend since kindergarten, Owen, who traveled from Missouri to Chicago to surprise his friend.
"What are you doing here?," Stevie asked Owen, as seen in a video of the surprise shared on Facebook by Stevie's mom, Diane Stroud. "You just made my day. I've had the worst day ever. What are you doing here?"
Owen then replied, "I'm visiting you in Chicago. That's what I'm doing here."
"I feel like I'm dreaming," Stevie later said to his friend, as his tears of surprise and joy turned into a smile.
Stevie and Owen, whose parents asked that his last name not be used, had not seen each other in two years, since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Stroud.
Their last visit in-person visit was in 2019, when the Stroud family traveled to Missouri to visit Owen and his family, who had recently moved there from Chicago.
"Within six months or so of them moving away, Stevie said what he wanted for his birthday was to see Owen, so we surprised him with a visit," said Stroud. "Then COVID happened, and we weren’t able to visit more like we would have."
The two friends have been staying in touch during the pandemic by phone, FaceTime and video games, according to Stroud.
Owen recently told his parents that what he wanted for his birthday was to surprise Stevie, so the two sets of parents spoke and took safety precautions amid the ongoing pandemic to be able to make the surprise happen.
"It was a complete surprise (for Stevie)," said Stroud. "You see this sense of relief and joy because all he wanted was to see his best friend, and vice versa."
The video of the emotional reunion quickly went viral on Facebook, where Stroud said she has received messages from strangers across the country.
"I have gotten numerous messages from all over the country that said things like, 'Thank you for posting this. It made my day,'" said Stroud. "It reminded people of having friendships as kids."
"It’s been really wonderful," she said of the reaction.