Video: Dad with ALS walks to ‘tap out’ son at military graduation

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Published 3:09 pm, Thursday, June 8, 2017

A retired Army veteran from El Paso is facing his toughest battle yet after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, but not even ALS could stop this father from being a part of his son’s graduation.

Frankie Sanchez Sr. served the United States for nearly 23 years, and last week his son, Frankie Sanchez Jr., graduated from Air Force Basic Training in San Antonio.

“Ok everyone, Frankie Sanchez Jr. is now officially an American Airman,” said Christy Sanchez, Frankie Jr.’s mom’s on Facebook. “(We) have had the most trying and emotional 36 hours. I didn’t know I could cry as much as I did last night. Thinking we were going to miss Frankie’s graduation was more than my heart could handle.”

Christy and Frankie Sr. had made the eight-hour drive to see their oldest son, Frankie Jr., graduate and the night before his son’s ceremony, Frankie Sr. went to the emergency room when the breathing machine he is dependent on stopped working.

MILITARY GRADUATION: Band of brothers: 3 siblings graduate West Point together

“The doctors told my husband that without a new breathing machine he should not leave the hospital. It would be fatal if he decided to check out and leave,” Christy said. “We were going to miss the ceremony. We both sobbed all night long. We were completely devastated. It was the middle of the night and there was no one available to deliver a new machine.”

Christy wrote on her Facebook page that, “By the grace of God, we received a new trilogy machine with about 20 minutes to spare before the 2nd graduation event took place.”

The graduation includes the ‘Tapping Out’ tradition, where the Airman will remain still until a family member or chosen person will come up and tap them on the shoulder or hug them. Frankie Sr. knew he wanted to be the one to “tap out” his son.

“My husband wanted to get out of his power wheelchair and walk over to our son,” Christy said.

Frankie Sr. was diagnosed with ALS in February of 2016 and uses a wheelchair, but in a moment that none of them will ever forget, Frankie Sr. stood out his chair and walked over to his son to officially tap him out.

“It was the most beautiful and memorable event I’ve ever witnessed in my life and I will never forget it as long as I live,” Christy said.

The Sanchez family is full of love and Christy knows she has a special family.

FATHER’S LOVE: Dad walks daughter to first day and last day of school

“I want people to know that we have three sons and we are so proud of all of them. My husband is so funny and loves to dance and have fun. He is Puerto Rican and loves his culture and heritage. He is a very hard worker and a true family man. He loves the New York Giants more than life itself. He loves golf although he can no longer play. We are full of love and we are enjoying every single minute we have together.”

For more information about ALS click here and to learn more about Sanchez family click here.

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