There were a lot of hugs and tears at Senior Night prior to Hardin High School’s football game Friday. Walking onto the field escorted by her former band director, Gabrielle Chandler, and current band director, Glenn Zamazal, Drum Major Samantha Keasling became emotional when she spotted the person walking toward her on the 50-yard line. It was her brother, Army Pvt. Kendall Keasling, a 2018 Hardin High School graduate who has been away for several weeks at military training.
“She didn’t know he was coming home,” said their mother, Stephanie. “Kendall is being deployed to Afghanistan in December or January, and Samantha didn’t know if she was going to see him before deployment. It was a complete surprise to her that he showed up at the game.”
Stephanie and her husband, Michael, planned the surprise for Samantha with the help of Chandler, Zamazal and Hardin High School Principal Dr. Bryan Taulton.
“Because of them we were able to pull if off. We hid Kendall in the band concession stand until it was time for Samantha to be announced. The cheerleaders helped us hide him on the opposite side of the track,” Stephanie said.
As Samantha’s name was announced over the loud speaker, the cheerleaders stepped aside to reveal Kendall. With hugs and tears, the siblings greeted each other before stepping aside for the other seniors to be presented.
After Hardin’s victorious 18-14 game over Anahuac, the siblings hung out together at Whataburger. The trip home for Kendall was short-lived. On Saturday morning, he and his parents already were en route to Fort Carson, Colo., where Kendall will be stationed until his deployment to Afghanistan.
Much of his three-day leave was spent on the road traveling to and from Texas, but Kendall said the surprise for his sister and the visit with his family was worth it as he will probably not be home for the holidays this year.
By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos for this story were graciously provided by Angel Rick Leal with RickStar Photography.