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Local father attends son’s graduation thanks to a Secret Santa

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MONTGOMERY, Alabama — A Blackfoot father surprised with a gift from a Secret Santa two weeks ago was able to see his son graduate from Air University in Alabama Thursday.

Steven Elkins, a 17 year Air Force veteran, was not going to make it to the ceremony due to financial reasons. He was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to see his son, Kevin Elkins, be commissioned as an officer of the United States Air Force. But that changed with a visit from the team the week of Thanksgiving.

Steven Elkins has been through a lot since he retired from the military. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. He is now in remission but still feels pain at times and ended up with Bell’s palsy.

Elkin’s parents have lived with him and his wife since December of last year but recently moved out. To help take better care of his parents, Steven quit one of his jobs. His wife later got a job to help support the family but recently they fell on hard times.

RELATED | Veteran is stunned he’ll now get to see his son graduate thanks to a gift from a Secret Santa

“Financially we weren’t doing too good. My wife lost her job and originally we were going to try and make it out here,” Steven told Alabama News Network. “When all that happened…I didn’t think that is going to work. So we decided not to come. Unfortunately it was a bad set of cards that were dealt but that’s what it was.”

When all hope seemed lost, a Christmas miracle occurred.

An anonymous Secret Santa in eastern Idaho asked the team to surprise Steven at work with the money needed to cover all expenses for the trip to Maxwell Air Force Base.

“I know it’s been a long road for my son to get to this point and I’m glad that I can be here,” said Steven.

Steven was front and center for the very special moment in Kevin’s career – the traditional first salute where a silver dollar was exchanged. According to the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Silver Dollar Salute has been a military tradition since the 19th century. Newly commissioned officers give a silver dollar to the first enlisted member who salutes them. It is now used in ceremonies as a sign of respect and deep gratitude for an officer who has had the greatest impact on the new officer’s career.

“I don’t even know how to describe it honestly. I’m super appreciative of him and everything that he has shown me to help me through life,” said Kevin.

Officer Kevin Elkins will take a few days off before taking the next step in his career as an intel student at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas.

Steven will be returning home to Idaho with a Secret Santa gift never to be forgotten.

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