PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. (KSAZ) - A high school teacher in the Prescott Valley area has always wanted to visit the Vietnam Memorial at the nation's capital. Now, thanks to a very thoughtful former former student, George Ponte's dream is becoming a reality.
"I was completely caught off guard," said Ponte, who teaches at Bradshaw Mountain High School. "Never expected this at all."
On Friday, Ponte thought he was going to speak at an afternoon assembly about senior pranks. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except one thing.
"The thing I thought was kind of surprising was when I saw Chris here from the Marine Corp," said Ponte. "I said to myself, 'why did they need me to talk to them when they have a Marine here?'"
The "Chris" Ponte is referring to is Sgt. Chris Ames, a former student of Ponte. Instead of a speech, Ames was there to deliver a very sweet surprise to Ponte.
"Ever since I graduated, I heard the story of how he just barely missed the draft by a couple of numbers," said Ames. "He had friends that he lost in the Vietnam War that were drafted, and he said before he dies and before he leaves this Earth, he wants to get back to the Vietnam Memorial so he can spend time with his friends."
Ames started a GoFundMe page to sent Ponte and his wife on an all-expense paid trip. The pre-set goal was $8,000. As of Friday, the campaign has raised over $17,000.
Ames said no one deserves the trip more than Ponte, a teacher that has inspired so many people, and will continue to do so for years to come.
"He's the type of person that can make anything interesting," said Ames. "He can talk about security badges for an hour, and he would have you hanging on his every word."
The extra money will go to Ponte's retirement account.