Duke Behnke, The (Appleton, Wis.) Post-Crescent
Published 8:42 a.m. ET April 18, 2018 | Updated 10:11 a.m. ET May 16, 2019CLOSE
He’s normally shy, but he couldn’t hold back when he found out who was inside the mascot costume.
MilitarykindSgt. Jen Sabrowsky of Appleton serves with the Wisconsin Army National Guard.(Photo: Courtesy of Jen Sabrowsky)APPLETON – An Appleton mom who returned from overseas duties with the Wisconsin Army National Guard surprised her son with an unusual homecoming.She was disguised as a jaguar.Sgt. Jen Sabrowsky entered the lunchroom at McKinley Elementary School dressed as the school’s mascot. After walking among the students and giving them high fives, she sat down across from her son, Jake, and took off the head of the costume.His reaction was priceless. The sixth-grader yelled “Mom!” and ran to the other side of the table and threw himself into his mother’s arms.”He was coming in hot,” Sabrowsky told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.Watch more Militarykind videos on Facebook.The moment occurred Jan. 26 and drew applause from students and staff. It was captured on video and posted to the school’s Facebook page.Andrea Vinje, principal at McKinley, worked with Sabrowsky to arrange the surprise. She described it as one of the most memorable moments of her career.”It was so amazing,” Vinje said. “It was so nice to see all of the other kids just so genuinely happy. That made me super proud.”Sabrowsky had been away since April. She served in the Middle East with Company D of the 1-147th Aviation Battalion, flying medevac missions and providing aviation support.She said her son and stepson struggled while she was gone.”It was a tough time for both of them,” she said, “so I wanted to make it a big deal coming home. I wanted them to feel this is something we can be proud of, not just something to be endured.”The use of the mascot costume was the school’s idea. Sabrowsky said she had no idea how Jake was going to react. She said he normally is quite reserved.”It was awesome that the school facilitated the surprise,” she said. “The school was so on top of things the entire time I was gone.”Sabrowsky was wearing her National Guard uniform underneath the mascot costume. Her biggest concern was trying to stay on her feet.”I had big, clunky boots on, and then I had these feet over my boots,” she said. “I was really afraid I was going to trip.”Watch more Militarykind videos on Facebook. Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2H8THIR