Service member overseas performs cheer routine in support of daughter heading to nationals

Mikayla Lange said it felt "amazing" to see her father who is in the Mideast.

May 2, 2018, 9:12 PM

A recent send-off for a cheerleading squad heading to nationals went from cheers to thankful tears when one child's parent made a surprise appearance from halfway around the world.

On Friday, the families of the Koach All-Stars Cheerleading and Tumbling team in Ankeny, Iowa, got together to show support for the girls before they left to compete.

Part of the send-off included some fathers performing a cheer. They brought down the house with a surprise routine.

But then the attention turned to one cheerleader in particular: Mikayla Lange, 9, of Ankeny.

Mikayla's father, Sgt. First Class Robert Lange, could not be present at the farewell event because he's serving overseas in the Middle East.

PHOTO: Mikayla Lange, 9, of Ankeny, Iowa, standing with father, Sgt. First Class Robert Lange, her mother and little brother.
Mikayla Lange, 9, of Ankeny, Iowa, standing with father, Sgt. First Class Robert Lange, her mother and little brother.
Courtesy Madison Rorebeck- Lange

The family said he'd been separated from them for seven months. It's his second tour of duty and the family said he'd missed several family milestones, including this weekend's send-off.

At Friday's event, after the performance, Mikayla was called to the front and each of the fathers handed her a U.S. flag and a flower.

And, then, as a surprise to top all surprises, her father appeared on a video screen from the Middle East.

"Hi, Mikayla," he said. "I'm sorry I can't be there with you."

Then he ran to join his unit of more than a dozen service members and they performed the fathers' cheer just for Mikayla, complete with the flips and the lifts.

As Mikayla watched from Iowa, her mother, Madison, stood by, wiping her tears away.

Today, Mikayla said it felt "amazing" seeing her father on that screen.

"At first, I was bawling my eyes out and then ... I looked up at the screen and my dad was doing cartwheels," she said. "It probably took him a month to learn [it.]"

Mikayla told ABC News that she was grateful to her Koach family for supporting her and her family while he was gone.

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