Deployed Dad Sneaks Up To Blindfolded Son At Taekwondo For Huge Surprise Homecoming.

army dad taekwondo surprise

We never realize just how much the everyday moments with our loved ones mean until we have to go without them.

In May 2018, Staff Sgt. Rob Cesternino was deployed to Jordan and Southern Syria, serving with the Tennessee National Guard. His six children have gone through nearly a year’s worth of dinners, family activities, and nights without their beloved father. It’s been hard for all of them, but Cesternino’s youngest son, Luca, has been having an especially rough time.

staff sgt cesternino

So when Cesternino found out he’d be returning home from active duty a few days earlier than expected, he knew it would be the perfect opportunity to make his 9-year-old’s year. With his wife Leah’s help, Cesternino plotted to surprise Luca at his taekwondo session on March 18. Luca was told he’d be sparring blindfolded with three different instructors… the last of which would be his dad.


Luca had no idea he was throwing punches at his dad until he heard his opponent call him by his childhood nickname. Luca freezes as another person records the touching moment. “Daddy?” he asks. Then he pulls off his blindfold, looks up, and stares as his jaw drops.

sparring surprise

A split second later, Luca barrels toward Cesternino, wrapping his arms around his dad as he sobs uncontrollably. Claps and cheers ring out around the room as the two hold onto one another.

luca hugs dad

“You were such a big boy when I was gone. I’m so proud of you,” Cesternino tells Luca. We’re certain his little boy is just as proud of his dad.

luca hugs dad

It’s obvious how long (and how much) the father and son have been wishing for this moment. They must be so excited to make up for all that lost time. Here’s hoping they get to enjoy each other’s company as much as possible in the coming months.

Watch as Luca’s regular Monday night turns into a memory he’ll always cherish. Share to celebrate Cesternino’s return and to thank him for his service.

Father Surprises Son

I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING 😭❤️ A 9-year-old was surprised when his father SSG Rob Cesternino returned home from active duty tonight. When he was deployed, he served as a Lebanon city council member. Welcome back!

Posted by WZTV FOX 17 News, Nashville on Monday, March 18, 2019

Share your story & inspire the world.
If you have an uplifting story we would love to hear about it! Share it with us here.

Want more good news?

Sign up for Smile, our free daily good news email with over 600,000 happy and optimistic subscribers!

You share, we give!
Every time you share an article, we donate to Smile Train to provide life-changing cleft surgeries to children in need.

$17.76 raised today! Learn more here.

Share to Give!

Every time you share an article, we donate to Smile Train to help provide life-changing cleft surgeries to children in need. Spread good news, change lives! Learn more here.

$17.76 raised today!

Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.