Military Unit Surprises Daughter of Deployed Soldier with Incredible Cheer Routine


A father’s love for his daughter is unlike any other. And one of the greatest examples of this love surrounds a group of cheerleading dads.

Now, I’ve never been one who was flexible enough to do cartwheels and flips (beautifully that is). But I have always been impressed by cheerleaders and their athletic ability as well as the constant smiles on their faces. My cheeks would hurt after a while.

Koch All-Stars Cheerleading and Tumbling members in Ankeny, Iowa, were preparing to leave for a national competition. Their families gathered in a large gymnasium to support their daughters before they headed out to compete.

The fathers of the cheerleading squad had been practicing a routine of their own, and together, as their own team, they performed for the large crowd.

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After the dads performed, however, it became evident that one dad, in particular, was missing from the festivities.

Nine-year-old Mikayla Lange’s dad, Sgt. First Class Robert Lange, was serving in the Middle East and didn’t get to be part of the special time with his daughter.

“She was excited at first when all the dads came in cheering, then it kind of hit her that her dad wasn’t there,” Madison Lange told People Magazine. “She sat there for a moment, and you could tell that she was upset.”

Her coach still wanted her to feel special, so she was called to the front of the room.

“For those that may not know, little Mikayla’s dad is deployed, so he could not be here today,” Ashley Bailey said. “So we wanted you to feel special and all of those dads are now your dad.”

The dad’s stood in a line and each one handed Mikayla a red rose and an American flag.

Holding her giant bouquet of flags and flowers, Mikayla felt the love from her teammates’ fathers, but there was one more surprise in store for the little cheerleader.

Her attention was turned toward the video screen and her dad appeared!

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“Hey, Mikayla! I’m sorry I can’t be there with you, but I can’t wait to get home and see you,” Robert Lange said on the video.

Before her eyes, her dad joined the rest of his Iowa National Guard unit and cheer music started playing.

His unit performed the exact same routine as the cheer dads at the event! The smile spread across Mikayla’s face said it all.

“At first, I was bawling my eyes out and then … I looked up at the screen and my dad was doing cartwheels,” Mikayla told ABC News. “It probably took him a month to learn (it).”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith