LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A West Salem family hasn't been able to see their brother and son for the last year and a half. That's because he's been serving overseas with the Marine Corps.
But Tyler LeDoux was able to see them after months apart through a special arrangement. It was a special invitation that brought his family to Features Fest 12.
"We were nominated to receive four family VIP tickets because we had a son serving overseas," said Joanne LeDoux, from West Salem.
At least, that's what organizers told her.
"We've had so much success over the last few years it almost feels like we can only plateau. We can't-- what do you do with our budgets?" said Jason Slusser, owner of Features West Salem, in a video made for the occasion.
Slusser sat across from Jason Lassen at a table, discussing ways to make this year's concert different from the previous year's.
"I don't think we can do anything bigger than last year," replied Lassen, with American Family Insurance Jason Lassen Agency, one of the concert sponsors.
Secretly, Lassen and Slusser had been planning something big.
"He's been in Japan for the last year and a half and unfortunately he can't be here right now," said Lassen to the crowd as the LeDoux family stood on stage.
It's been hard not having Tyler LeDoux home. Social media and other ways of communicating have made it better, but it's still tough.
"Because he's not here. I can't hug him," said Joanne LeDoux.
Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, Collin Raye and the band were performing "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly" when the family was brought to the side of the stage. At the end of the song, that's when the family spotted Tyler LeDoux.
Lassen and Slusser had secured leave with Tyler LeDoux's supervisors and paid to bring him home. His mom and siblings were completely taken by surprise.
"I'm just floored at their generosity," Joanne LeDoux said.
It was a gesture that meant so much.
"I said, 'These are things you see on television happening to other people.' I said, 'It doesn't happen to me,'" Joanne LeDoux said.
To have time with the ones we love is priceless.
"I'm just in awe that people do things like this," LeDoux said.
The family is up north with friends this Labor Day weekend. It's a tradition that goes back many years but one that Tyler LeDoux has had to miss because he was serving. They could not be more excited to have him there for the trip.
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