A Texas veteran suffering from ALS stood from his wheelchair to honor his son who had just recently graduated from Basic Military Training (BMT) in the U.S. Air Force.
Frankie Sanchez Sr., an Army veteran who served for 22 years, got out of his wheelchair to “tap out” his son who was standing at attention.
“My father has been and will always be my best friend and right-hand man,” Frankie Jr. told TODAY. “I can always count on him for anything. Before leaving to basic training, we made a promise to one another. We promised that if I finished basic training on time that he would be there to see me graduate and tap me out. So what a feeling to hold that promise and follow through with it.”
“My husband wanted to get out of his power wheelchair and walk over to our son,” wife and mother Christy Sanchez told Inside Edition. “It was the most beautiful and memorable event I’ve ever witnessed in my life.”
Sanchez Sr. was diagnosed with ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, in February 2016, but has battled the effects of ALS for roughly three years. Last spring, Sanchez Sr. began using the wheelchair.
People suffering from ALS live for three years, on average, after they are diagnosed with the disease.
“His legs are losing strength every day, and he wears leg braces that allow him to take a few steps without his feet dragging,” Christy Sanchez told TODAY. “His balance is almost gone; he has to hold on to me or the wall or to any available furniture if he needs to walk more than two or three steps. His breathing is not good, and he has become mostly dependent on his trilogy breathing machine. He takes it off to eat and can have it off for a few moments at a time but needs it about 95 percent of the time now.”
The night before the graduation ceremony, Sanchez Sr. was hospitalized because his breathing machine stopped working. His doctors told him that unless he got a new one, he would not be able to go to the ceremony – because he would die without it.
“We were going to miss the ceremony,” Christy Sanchez said. “We both sobbed all night long. We were completely devastated.”
The next morning, a respiratory therapist showed up to his hospital room with a new machine.
“We hadn’t slept, we hadn’t eaten, we hadn’t showered or changed clothes,” Christy told TODAY. “We checked out of the hospital at 9:46 a.m. and raced over to the base and got to our seats with about 10 minutes to spare.”