Mikayla Lange: Deployed military dad from Iowa surprises daughter.
Families from Ankeny-based Koach All-Stars Cheerleading and Tumbling rallied together Friday during a send-off for three of its teams competing in an upcoming national competition in Florida.
For 9-year-old Mikayla Lange and her squad, nearly two dozen of her teammates’ fathers surprised the girls with a routine of their own during the event, sparking smiles and laughter from their forward rolls and jumps.
But then the attention turned to Mikayla Lange and her dad, Sgt. First Class Robert Lange.
Lange is currently serving his second tour of duty in the Middle East with the Iowa National Guard, his wife Madison Lange told the Des Moines Register. He’s been overseas for nearly seven months, she said.
After the fathers’ show at Koach, Mikayla Lange was called to the center of the room, as seen in a broadcast by ABC News.
“For those that may not know, little Mikayla’s dad is deployed, so he could not be here today,” Koach owner Ashley Bailey said. “So we wanted you to feel special and all of those dads are now your dad.”
Mikayla Lange went down the line of the cheer dads, where she received a U.S. flag and flower from each of them.
“That is her ‘bonus family,’ she calls them,” Madison Lange said.
A few minutes later, a video started to play on a giant screen:
“Hey, Mikayla. I’m sorry I can’t be there with ya,” her father says in the clip. “But I can’t wait to come home and see ya.”
Then, it was showtime.
Lange ran off and joined his unit already in formation nearby, the video shows. The troop then did the same routine that the other dads had just completed, making for another hilarious performance loaded with shimmying and stunts.
Mikayla Lange told ABC News it felt “amazing” seeing her father cheering and performing on the giant screen.
“At first, I was bawling my eyes out,” Mikayla Lange told ABC News. “… I looked up at the screen and my dad was doing cartwheels.”
Madison Lange said her daughter has had a bad last few weeks. Mikayla Lange recently broke her jaw, and Friday’s rally was “her kind of coming out of her shell again.”
“I think it really lifted her,” Madison Lange said, adding that she’s a daddy’s girl. “She watches the video over and over again. She feels very supported and loved from everybody.”
The Iowa National Guard joked in a Facebook post Thursday that “Lange’s soldiering is better than his cartwheeling, but we’re glad to see the maintenance section with Headquarters Support Company, 248th Aviation Support Battalion, 67th Troop Command, Iowa National Guard is getting in some good PT while overseas!”
Lange replied to a Facebook post Tuesday that was shared by Koach about his surprise routine:
“Thank you everyone for your support. I didn’t think it would actually make the news!” he wrote. “Also thank you to the whole Koach family for looking out for my family when I’m away.”
Mikayla Lange and her team will be in Orlando May 11-13 at the D2 Summit — which Madison Lange called “the Olympics of cheerleading.”