Cheerleader Never Expected Her First NFL Game To Go This Way

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When a happily married couple were torn apart by war, they were hopeful that everything would work out and that they would return to each other, safe and sound. But this wife’s life got turned upside down when she performed for the first time as a cheerleader.

Torn Apart

Candace Valentine was proud of her husband August, a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps. But at the same time, she was worried that she may never see him again. But then one day, something unbelievable happened.

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Meet Candace

Before we move forward with the story, let’s go back to the very beginning. Candace Ruocco hails from Swansea, Illinois and is the daughter of proud parents, Dr. Eric Michael and Katherine Lillian Ruocco. At some stage in her life, Candace decided that she wanted to realize one of her dreams: to become a cheerleader. Throughout her school years, she never took it upon herself to perform the art of cheerleading. But later on in her life, she finally got her chance…

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Along Came Her Valentine

During her time at the Whitfield School in St. Louis, Candace met the love of her life, August Valentine. The couple would grow from strength to strength and carried on their relationship into their college years. At Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Candace graduated with a degree in English, French, political science and fashion merchandising. August, on the other hand, attended Regis University, Denver, and got his bachelor’s degree in history and business administration. Despite studying separately, the couple’s love stayed strong throughout.

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Like Mother, Like Daughter

Candace’s talents and determination run deep in her family. Her mother, Katherine, has a deep passion for politics. In fact, she was a 2016 Republican candidate for District 113 of the Illinois House of Representatives. She is also a practitioner of law for Ruocco Law Office LLC, specializing in elder law, advocating for the elderly and disabled. According to Katherine, hard work and perseverance are core tenets of her lifestyle. It goes to show that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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Lieutenant August

There was one aspect of Candace and August’s relationship that always threatened their future together. From an early age, August has been heavily involved with the U.S. Marine Corps. He serves as a First Lieutenant and since as early as he could remember, August always wanted to be the best person he could be and serve his country. However, he knew that if he was going to have a relationship with someone, he would be putting it all on the line.

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A Match Made In Heaven

Both Candace and August’s late fathers, Edward Francis Martin and  John Dee Valentine, would have been proud of their children when one asked for the other’s hand in marriage. Fortunately, both of their mothers Katherine and Trudy were in attendance when the couple tied the knot on July 31, 2014. Katherine’s second husband Dr. Eric Michael was also there to celebrate the couple’s holy union. But before this, the couple had a private ceremony and you won’t believe where they had it…

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The Wedding Day

That’s right – the couple got married in a courtroom at Saint Louis University School of Law. This was a very special place for many of the people involved. This was mainly because it wasn’t only where Candance studied but also where her mother Katherine and August’s late father John Dee studied too. Despite not being in a church or a ceremonial hall, the ceremony was just as emotional for obvious reasons. But this would not be the end of the couple’s celebrations.

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Holy Matrimony

Shortly after, newlyweds Candace and August decided to have an actual white wedding and a ceremony of heavenly proportions. So they went to Rome, of all places, and had a religious ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the focal points of the Vatican City. 75 relatives and close friends came to Rome for the occasion. Then on August 16, for those who were unable to attend, the couple also had a hometown reception at August’s family estate in south St. Louis County.

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The Honeymoon

After all the bureaucracy and ceremonies, Candace and August celebrated their honeymoon in style but with a profound meaning. They traveled to a Swiss town that happened to be the hometown of August’s grandmother, Gertrude Buholzer Busch. This was followed by stops in Nairobi, Kenya, where the couple helped out at a Christian orphanage. Then, they spent their final stop in the most romantic of locations – Paris. Candace and August spend two days in the beautiful French capital to cap off a truly incredible honeymoon.

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The Force Is Strong With These Two

Even after their honeymoon, Candace and August had fun during the early stages of their marriage, even celebrating their first Christmas together as a married couple. Being dedicated Star Wars fans for as long as they could remember, they were both extremely excited for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to come out in the theaters and even bought lightsabers for each other during the festive period. One thing is for sure: this happy couple certainly brought balance to the Force.

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A Caring Couple

Not only do they know how to have fun, but Candace and August also are kind individuals who always look out for the people of both their local and wider communities. Their philanthropic work includes contributions to organizations such as Caring Solutions. This initiative provides services for people with developmental disabilities. This photo was taken at Caring Solutions 14th annual gala celebration. The event even honored August’s mother, Trudy Busch Valentine, who has been a trusted contributor to the cause for many years.

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Loyal To Their Country

It’s not only August who serves his country. Candace is also a commissioned first lieutenant for the U.S. Marine Corps. After completing her studies and working at her mother’s law firm, she trained at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia. This was followed by a training period at the Naval Justice School in Rhode Island. It was obvious that the two were perfect for one another, especially because they both held their country so close to their hearts.

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Off He Went

But the day came that the couple had been dreading for a long time. August was ordered to go to South Korea to perform his service. This was after Candace had been stationed in Virginia for her training. So August packed his bags and embarked on his trip to South Korea and the couple’s biggest test yet had officially begun. Would their bond be able to stand the test of time? Or would tragedy turn its ugly head?

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Separated

It should have been so much easier. It wasn’t as if this was the first time that they had been apart from each other. They studied at different colleges. But although they had been apart for long periods of time, this was a very different situation. August was flying to the other side of the world to complete his service. Also, it wasn’t as if Candace could just catch a bus to visit him. There was no doubt that this was going to be tough.

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Many Strings To Her Bow

However, Candace always stayed hopeful that her husband would return and they could resume their everyday life. But until then, she had to be the best person that she could be. Candace was able to impressively balance out her many passions. She successfully worked as a first lieutenant, as a Law Officer Associate, and she even got her PhD in Public Policy. Despite so many commitments, Candace pursued one of her biggest dreams – becoming a cheerleader.

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Candace The Cheerleader

Candace aced the auditions, with the coach deeming her as an absolute natural. She had spent many months getting into shape for this occasion and her hard work had seriously paid off. After showing the coaches what she was capable of, it wasn’t long before they called her back and asked Candace to join the team on a permanent basis. She had done it; she was officially a cheerleader. But if only her husband August could’ve been there to hear such great news.

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Her Debut

The night had finally arrived. Candace was about to make her debut performance as a cheerleader for the St. Louis Rams. They were up against the Indianapolis Colts at the Edward Jones Dome, but Candace wasn’t phased by the occasion. She was ready to take on the world and show the fans both at the stadium and watching on TV exactly what she was made of. She could only hope that wherever her husband was, that he was watching, somewhere.

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Game On!

The time had finally come, and Candace was ready to show the world that she had what it took to be a top class cheerleader. She picked up her pom poms, entered the field with the rest of her cheerleading team and started the routine they had trained for the last few weeks building up to the game. Her heart was racing as she was surrounded by so many people who had their eyes on her. But she kept her cool and carried on.

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Not The Best Result

As for the game itself, the Rams were not as successful as their debut cheerleader that evening. By the end of the night, the Rams failed in their attempt to overpower the Indianapolis Colts. They were beaten 24-14. Also, to make matters even worse, it was on their home field. But this game wouldn’t be remembered for the Rams’ unceremonious defeat. No one who watched the game would ever forget the events that transpired during halftime…

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Unexpected Announcement

Then, out of the blue, an announcement was made, and it was directed at Candace. It turns out that the Rams had a message to deliver to her, from none other than August himself. It seemed like he organized a personal message for his beloved wife just in time for her debut performance. He wanted to let her know that he didn’t forget about her big day. This alone was a shock for the cheerleader. But then something crazier happened…

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The Message

All of a sudden, August’s face appeared on the big screen for the thousands of fans to see, including Candace. Before she could even catch her breath, he started speaking. “Hi, Candice. I’m so proud of you for becoming a Rams cheerleader,” he said, joyfully. “I would never want to miss your first game. So, surprise.” Could it be? Did August return from his Marine Corps service? Was he in the stadium? Or was this just some sort of sick joke?

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Absolute Shock

Candace was completely flabbergasted. She couldn’t believe what was happening before her very eyes. She pinched herself to check whether this was real or not. The cheerleader stood there alongside the mascot, jaw-dropped and in utter disbelief. And it wasn’t just Candace who was shocked by the video message. Thousands of people gasped but quickly realized just how amazing this moment must have been for Candace. As the crowd cheered, elated by August’s romantic gesture, the cheerleader couldn’t anticipate what was about to happen next…

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Voila!

There he was. August came rushing out of the entrance to the arena and ran over to his wife. This must have been just as emotional for him as it was for Candace. After being stationed in South Korea, the first lieutenant was grateful to have returned in one piece and now he could celebrate his homecoming with his one true love. It was like something out of a romantic movie and their run towards each other felt like slow motion.

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Finally

After all this time, the married couple were finally able to feel each other’s warm embrace. Thousands watched on and cheered joyfully for the couple. Even the commentator was excited for them, saying, “This is so cool. Candace Valentine, the Rams cheerleader. Her husband August just came back from serving overseas. She didn’t know August was in the house tonight.” Everything seemed to come together just perfectly. And there was one more amazing detail that made this story so compelling…

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Just In Time

August had made it just in time for Candace’s first big cheerleader performance for the St. Louis Rams. Here was a man who was putting his body and soul on the line for his country. But despite this huge commitment, he still put his beloved wife first and wouldn’t miss her first performance for the world. It just goes to show that no matter how testing a relationship can be, we can still make incredible sacrifices for the ones we love.

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