Beary, beary cute.
The present Ellianna Villegas received from her father for her fifth birthday last week was unlike any other the little girl from San Antonio, Texas, had ever received.
In a now-viral video shared on Twitter by her aunt, Ellianna smiles as she removes a teddy bear dressed like a soldier from its box. It looks like her daddy, she notes. She’s right: the teddy bear is dressed like her father, David Villegas, a soldier who has been away from his family since August for basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
But she’s about to find out that the bear’s resemblance to her father goes far deeper than its uniform.
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Ellianna’s mother Vanessa tells her to press on the bear’s paw for a special message. “Hey baby, daddy loves you and misses you so, so much and I can’t wait for you to be in my arms again,” her father’s voice says from a recording device inside the bear. “I love you very much.”
The little squeals and her eyes go wide. “Oh my God that’s daddy!” she cries as she gives the bear a big hug.
The emotional moment quickly went viral, and currently has more than 50,000 retweets and more than 110,000 likes. Hundreds replied saying they wished they had a similar bear to remind them of loved ones they miss.
“We only had three weeks to spend with him before he had to leave and, of course, we have no contact with him … it’s basically he’s gone for nine weeks and a couple of days,” Villegas told KSAT.com. “And after that, he has to go again for longer and so he won’t be back until April.”
Villegas added that Ellianna has had a tough time adjusting to life without her father. She misses him terribly and has spent many nights crying herself to sleep. “It really meant a lot to give that to her so she can play it every time she misses him and it helps her a lot,” Villegas told KSAT.com. “It’s tough but in the end, I know it’ll be worth it.”