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LYONS, OH (Toledo News Now) -
On this Veterans Day, a 6-year-old northwest Ohio girl got a big surprise for lunch.
Riley Studenka is a kindergartner at Evergreen Elementary School in Lyons, OH. Every year, the school holds a lunch for students with military family members.
Riley only needed 1,000 likes for her Uncle Colby Bradley, a retired officer of the U.S. Army, to come from North Carolina to visit her at school. Uncle Colby said he was going to come either way, but he presented the challenge to his sister, Riley's mother, for fun. Since we shared the photo, it has more than 12,000 likes and 1,100 shares on our Facebook page alone.
"He's amazing. He's my hero. He's gone overseas five different times, and in 2010, he didn't think he was going to make it home," said Tina Studenka, Riley's mother.
"It was never about money, or free hand out, or Facebook, or anything," Bradley said. "It was about just that one little moment. You know, to get your heart melted, and that's why I did it."
At school Monday, Riley thought she was having the best day ever eating chicken and mashed potatoes for lunch, but in the blink of an eye, it all changed when her hero strolled through the door. The word "surprise" doesn't even begin to describe Riley's reaction as she bursts with joy, swept up in a huge hug from her uncle.
Bradley says while he's been a lot of places and seen a lot of things, seeing the smile on little Riley's face was worth everything.
"This is what we fight for, and it's totally worth it. I mean, I'll put my life on the line any day for this kid," said Bradley.
Bradley made his own video to remember the reunion, and shared it: