El Paso Dad With ALS Fulfills Wish To ‘Tap Out’ Son At Military Graduation
An El Paso father and son have recently gone viral after a video showed the father, who has ALS, making it just in time to "tap out" his son from basic training.
This story is one that will bring a tear to your eye and make you smile all at the same time. Christy and Frankie Sanchez were excited to see their son Frankie Jr. graduate from Air Force basic training in San Antonio on May 25th. The family planned to make the eight hour drive to see Frankie Jr., when they had an unforeseen setback. Frankie Sr. has ALS, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a progressive disorder that causes the death of neurons that control a person's voluntary motions. Most people who are diagnosed with the disease are given an average survival time of only three years.
The night before the ceremony, Frankie Sr.'s breathing machine stopped working and he was taken to the emergency room. The couple were heartbroken and didn't think they would make it to their son's graduation. They needed a new machine and one wouldn't be able to be delivered until the next morning. Luckily, they were able to get a machine early the next morning and immediately began driving to the base in San Antonio. They arrived with only ten minutes to spare. But just in time for the most important part.
At the end of the basic training ceremony, the graduate stands at attention until someone "taps them out" to release them. Frankie Sr. wanted to be there to be the one to tap out his son. Frankie Sr. is a 22 year veteran of the Army and it had been a dream of his and his son's for him to tap junior out at his graduation.
The younger Frankie told TODAY:
"My father has been and will always be my best friend and right-hand man. 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 finish 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. For me personally, it was more than just a tap out, it was the father and son bond that we've shared ever since I was a little boy. To see that man get up out of his wheelchair and walk on his own two inadequate legs was beyond honorable."
Christy Sanchez shared the video to the Facebook page Grown and Flown where it quickly went viral, amassing almost 200,000 views. She also told TODAY about Frankie Sr.'s struggle with ALS:
"ALS is 100 percent fatal. There is no treatment and there is no cure. We live with those thoughts every single day. His legs are losing strength every day, and he wears leg braces that allow him to take a few steps without his feet dragging. 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 Sanchez family and Frankie Jr. said they are now just enjoying the time they have left with Frankie Sanchez Sr. living, laughing and loving as a family:
"We tell one each other in the hardest of times that we're Sanchezes, and we'll never give up. No matter how hard it'll get or seem in the moment, we stand tall and keep pushing forward. That's why I devote myself and thank him for what he has done for me. I will always love that man tremendously. A.S.N.F. — A son never forgets."