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His Story About Army Big Bro Wins Contest, But Real Prize Hiding Backstage

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There’s something to be said for the special bond between family members. It seems no matter how long we’re apart, I can always count on my family to be there to support me unlike anyone else.

When 11-year-old Damon Chiodo walked in to his Carnegie Elementary School assembly in September 2017, he had no idea what was waiting for him behind the wings.

He’d entered an essay he’d written about his hero in a contest, but Damon couldn’t have known the prize for winning was so priceless.

Of three essays chosen, the 6th grader’s name was called third and he excitedly walked up on stage. He then read his winning essay proudly — an essay written about his big brother Devin Tomei.

Tomei is a helicopter mechanic and U.S. Army Specialist who had been in Germany, miles and miles away from his family, for over two years.

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As Damon spoke of his big brother’s friendship and bravery, he didn’t even notice that someone else had joined him on stage.

As he moved to return to his seat, Damon’s path was blocked by his hero in the flesh. The look on this little brother’s face is something I’m sure his family will never forget.

The brothers embraced, both obviously filled with emotion. What a perfect moment to catch on camera.

“I have my family back together right now,” their mom, Renee Ciletti, said. “Even if it is just for a short time.”

It was a day to celebrate and enjoy family time. Damon was given a school holiday, with no tests and no make-up work to worry about.

“He’s always been there for me my entire life,” Chiodo shared. His brother shared the sentiment when he commented, “I only have one brother… I love him to death.”

Though the family only had one day to spend together, I have no doubt they will cherish that short time as a gift for years to come. I could watch this video over and over if only to watch Damon’s reaction — it gives me goosebumps every time.

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What a heartwarming memory. For those of us who see our families every day, the brothers’ story is the perfect example of how much we take for granted, and a solid reminder that every moment is a gift — even if that moment is just one day.

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Sarah Carri is an avid reader and social media guru with a passion for truth and life. Her writing has previously been published in print and online by Focus on the Family and other well known media outlets. Her experience in ministry and Disney entertainment gives her a unique perspective on such topics.
Sarah Carri is an avid reader and social media guru with a passion for truth and life. Her writing has previously been published in print and online by Focus on the Family and other well known media outlets. Her experience in ministry and Disney entertainment gives her a unique perspective on such topics.

Sarah's experience as a successful working stay-at-home mom and business owner has given her the chance to write and research often. She stays up to date on the latest in entertainment and offers her views on celebrity stories based on her wide knowledge of the industry. Her success as a former preschool teacher and licensed daycare provider lend to her know-how on topics relating to parenting and childhood education.

Her thoughts on faith and family issues stem from home life and ministry work. Sarah takes time to attend workshops and classes annually that help her to improve and hone her writing craft. She is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature program and her writing has been acclaimed by ACFW and ECPA.
Education
Institute of Children's Literature, Art Institute of Phoenix (Advertising), University of California Irvine (Theater), Snow College (Early Childhood Education)
Location
Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith




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