CULLMAN, Ala. – When the classmates of 8–year–old Hayden Herron heard that his father, William Herron, would be returning from his overseas deployment with the United States Air Force, they knew exactly what they wanted to do. The kids in Evan Sanderson’s class at the Cullman County Child Development Center (CCCDC) wanted to work together to create a “Welcome Home” banner for their friend to take to the airport to greet his dad.
Herron said goodbye to his dad in late August of last year. His mom Ashley Herron explained, “He was in Texas for about a month–and–a–half for training before he got sent to Qatar.”
The Herron family moved to Cullman from where he is stationed in Florida during the deployment so that Ashley Herron and the kids could have family nearby.
Though Hayden Herron is new to the CCCDC, he has made friends quickly.
Said his mom, “I love it here. Every time my husband would call, I would just tell him how much I love this school. Florida schools are good too, but this school seems to cater to the special needs more and he has more individual help.”
Herron learned how to talk-to-text since his dad has been gone and he has also spoken with his dad on Facetime. He said sweet and simple things, according to his mom, who said, “I’ll go in later and see that he sent his dad a message. It’s simple things like, ‘I miss you daddy.’”
Herron’s father was scheduled to be back in Florida Feb. 26, but Ashley Herron waited until a day or two before his arrival to tell her son. When he did learn his dad would be home soon, he couldn’t wait to tell his class about the good news. Sanderson and the 11 students in his class made a large banner for Herron to take with him to the airport. Each child signed the banner around the “Welcome Home” message.
“He wasn’t even one step off the bus before he showed me the sign and said, ‘Look what we did!” smiled Ashley Herron.
She said that she had planned on making a sign at home, but Herron insisted on taking the banner his class made to the airport for his dad’s arrival. She said, “The whole drive to Florida, he had it in his lap. I asked if he wanted to put in the back so it wouldn’t get bent but he said, ‘No, I want to hold it.’”
At the airport, Herron anxiously awaited his dad’s arrival while clutching the sign he and his friends made. Pretty soon, his dad emerged, and they embraced while tears of joy filled everyone’s eyes. Afterward, Herron and his family enjoyed a week in Florida.
“We went to the park and just walked around and went out to eat. We were in shorts and T-shirts down there and it was nice,” said his mom.
William Herron was able to visit Cullman for a week before heading back to Florida. They had a chance to have fun and work on a few new Minecraft Lego sets, his Hayden Herron’s favorite.
William Herron is back in Florida now, where he is stationed. Ashley, Hayden and Liam Herron will remain in Cullman to finish out the school year. Hayden Herron is also planning to play baseball with the Miracle League in Cullman this spring. Once the school year is over, the family will move back to Florida, but they said they will miss and always appreciate the new friends made in Cullman and at the CCCDC.
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