CHRISTMAS WISH GRANTED: 5-year-old asks Santa to bring military dad home for Christmas

CHRISTMAS WISH GRANTED: 5-year-old asks Santa to bring military dad home for Christmas. (KSNV/Denise Rosch)

LAS VEGAS (KSNV) - Step into any mall at Christmastime and it’s easy to believe in magic. The decorations, toys, and maybe an oversized ice cream cone add to that special feeling, but for 5-year-old Layla Walthers, her trip to see Santa Claus came with a purpose.

“What’s the thing you want most, that you’ve been wishing for?” Santa asked Layla.

Layla told the big guy to bring her Air Force daddy home, from overseas.

What Layla did not know was her dad was waiting on the other side of Santa.

“I’ve been away since June, so about six-and-a-half months now,” said her father, Staff Sgt. Jason Walthers.

Staff Sgt. Walthers wasn’t supposed to be home until next summer. A 15-day R&R was granted just in time for the holidays.

His wife, Julie, says Layla never had any doubts that Santa would come through.

“That's, like, her favorite person in the world, her best friend. She tells him everything. She has secrets that I don't know. She's like, 'It's mine and Daddy's secret,'” said Julie. A bond between father and daughter, especially strong.

“It means a lot; I always try to go out of my way for my 5-year-old to make Christmas a special thing. Go up to the mountains to get snow, or try to do little things, so this is huge for me,” said Staff Sgt. Walthers.

Staff Sgt. Walthers is also coming home to 10-month-old Lilly, who was barely rolling over when he left.

And while Staff Sgt. Walthers didn’t arrive home by sleigh, it might have been faster. He traveled for about 24 hours to get to Las Vegas on time.

Now, the family picture is once again complete.

So, the next time you question whether the holiday spirit exists, remember the man in red is making a list and checking it twice, helping one little girl find magic in the middle of the mall.

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