VALDOSTA – Madison Burchfield thought she would join country artists Dan + Shay on stage at a Wild Adventures Theme Park concert Saturday, but what really occurred brought her to tears.
Shockingly to Burchfield, she and the rest of her family were reunited with dad Matt Donahoue, an airman who returned from deployment early Saturday morning.
Moments prior to the reunion, Matt Donahoue stayed on Dan + Shay’s tour bus awaiting the arrival of his family backstage after being away from them for five months.
“I was very excited, very anxious,” he said.
His wife and daughters were told they had backstage passes for the Dan + Shay concert and that they would do a meet-and-greet with the artists.
But they soon showed joy when Matt Donahoue joined them after they’d taken a group photo.
Lydia Donahoue immediately jumped into her dad’s arms.
For Ashelynn Donahoue, seeing her dad was a birthday gift as she turned 15 a day earlier.
She said Saturday was the first time she was able to be present when her dad came home.
With Matt Donahoue’s recent deployment being his eighth, the homecoming has become the norm for the family, his wife said.
A technical sergeant in the 81st Fighter Squadron, Matt Donahoue has been deployed in Afghanistan for about five months as a weapons air adviser.
He has served for 17 years and said he plans to retire soon.
Dana Donahoue said it’s always overwhelming whenever her husband returns home.
“I like what he does. It’s all for a good cause,” she said. “Even though it’s a little tough, we get through it.”
Matt Donahoue said deployment is hard for him and his family, but they make it through it.
“I have a rock for a family so it works out,” he said.
Following their reunion, the Donahoues stayed at Wild Adventures to watch the Dan + Shay concert … together.