COMSTOCK PARK (June 30, 2014) — It was a first pitch the Bunyea family will never forget.
When Kora, 5, and Wyatt, 4, each threw out the first pitch at Fifth Third Ballpark before the Whitecaps game against Bowling Green, they thought they were just throwing the ball to a complete stranger. But when the catcher took off his mask, they soon realized they had thrown the pitch to their dad, United States Air Force Master Sergeant Aaron Bunyea, who was returning home after being stationed in Honduras since October 2013.
The two children raced to their father and along with their mother, Callie, joined in their first big family hug in nearly 9 months. It was an emotional surprise that was thought up by Aaron and then put together by Callie and the West Michigan Whitecaps.
“I had been watching the YouTube videos quite often,” said Master Sergeant Bunyea. “I’d only seen one other surprise like this. I knew the Whitecaps were close to where (my family) was at, so I made the call.”
His wife, Callie, is a Rockford High School alum and brought the kids back to Rockford when Aaron left for Honduras. When Aaron came up with the idea for the surprise reunion, it caught her by surprise.
“He’s generally a pretty reserved person,” said Callie. “Most of our homecomings have just been us in the airport waiting for him to come home. To do something to this magnitude was really interesting and exciting. For me, it means a lot as their mom to know that he wants to do this; go out of his comfort zone to surprise them and really make a good memory for them.”
After the ballgame, the family will being a camping trip for the Fourth of July holiday. Master Sergeant Bunyea is scheduled to return to Honduras at the end of July.