Father receives surprise of a lifetime when son returned home from active deployment for Christmas
The Christmas party for Alstom in Hornell was like any other. Some food, some drinks and some prizes.
Alstom Site Managing Director Mark Darrow reached his hand into the bucket of tickets and pulled out a winner at the end of the day.
"And the winner of the grand prize is. .. Glenn Rifenburg." said Darrow. "Come on up here Glenn."
As Rifenburg made his way to the center of the room, Darrow explained to the crowd that the grand prize was so incredible, it needed to be flown in. The prize had arrived in Elmira just hours before the party, and as Rifenburg walked to meet Darrow, the gift was finally ready.
The doors opened and the gift walked through. It was Rifenburg's son, Glenn Rifenburg Jr. who had just returned from South Korea on active deployment.
The stress of any parent is always high, but the stakes are raised even higher with a military child. But the moment when Rifenburg saw his son, all the stress and worry disappeared.
"It was great," said Rifenburg Sr. "I haven't seen him in over a year and right now I'm just tickled pink."
As the father-son embrace occurred, the crowd of over 250 people gave the Rifenburgs a standing ovation. There were over 500 eyes in the room and not one of them was dry.
"Just to see that look on dad's face when I came through the door," said Rifenburg Jr., "it was awesome."
The plan has been in the works since August, when Rifenburg Jr. contacted his sister Jessica. Jessica then contacted Darrow, who said he had the perfect venue and event.
"As soon as [Jessica] told me about the plan it was a slam-dunk yes." said Darrow. "Being a veteran and a dad you know that this was a great opportunity to give someone a great gift."
And while Rifenburg Jr. is not home for good, he is home. And during the holiday season there is no place that he, or his father, would rather be.
"I'm so happy," said both father and son.
The Rifenburg's live in Wellsville. Glenn's youngest sister, Mykaela Webster, also joined the family in the surprise.