Tampa, Florida - For Deann Morasco, it's a dream come true.
"Speaking as a spouse, it's the most amazing thing to feel. It's hard to even give you words to describe it," she told 10 News.
Deann had tears in her eyes when she talked about the moment she'll be reunited with her husband, Patrick, after nearly a year. He, along with 300 others, has been serving overseas in Qatar for nearly a year. For Deann and hundreds other military families from Tampa Bay, this will be the best Christmas ever -- the families will be home.
"In my opinion, it's not something I can even describe. It's like a miracle, you know, to have them come back home," Deann said.
It all started when National Guard troops from the Bay were given a surprise four-day leave starting next week. They are being decommissioned at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.
The only problem? The troops needed a ride home from Mississippi, but charter buses were expensive -- $35,000. Donations came in, organized through the American Legion, but on Monday they were still $20,000 short.
"Well, imagine yourself at 24 or 25 years old being away from your home for months, being away from loved ones, and imagine the opportunity to just see a familiar surrounding, familiar faces," said State Representative Dan Raulerson, who helped to spearhead the effort. Even Governor Rick Scott put out the call on Twitter.
Raulerson added, "They are the ones who put themselves on the line for us, every day for us. So, we're very excited about the possibility of doing this. We need just a little more help."
10 News put out the call and our viewers answered, along with businesses like Publix, Chico's, Walgreens, and Badcock Furniture.
Deann said, "To everybody, it's exciting. Did I think it would happen in less than a day? No."
That's right, in less than a day $20,000 came in to help, and the troops will be back in the Bay area by Christmas.
Deann told us, "I appreciate everything that Channel 10 has done because it brought this story to fruition. I can't thank you enough for what you've done."
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