NEW LENOX, Ill. (WLS) -- A first grader from south suburban New Lenox is ending the school year with a brand new bike and a very special memory.
It was a surprise that 6-year-old Zoey never thought possible, until she saw her dad, Army Sgt. Joe Martino, round the corner inside her elementary school.
Martino did not come empty-handed. He was riding a brand new bike. The timing could not have been better. Zoey will celebrate her 7th birthday in just a few weeks.
"It is very hard, but then it's good coming home," Martino said.
The bike was a gift from Lincoln Way West High School students participating in Making a Difference On and Off the Field, a service campaign that's part of the PepsiCo Showdown. Around 3,000 student athletes from the Chicago area are taking part.
The group collected money to donate the bikes as a way to honor military families.
The new wheels are gifts for kids just like Zoey, who do not get to spend time with their family members who serve our country.
"I'd rather her get the thank you than me get the thank you," Martino said.
Zoey's mother passed away, so she stays with her older sister while her dad is on duty. The bike a great way to keep her spirits up when her dad is away.
New Lenox soldier surprises daughter with new bike