Army Specialist Returns Home for the Holidays, Surprises Family

December 20, 2012 Updated Dec 20, 2012 at 7:38 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

December 20, 2012 Updated Dec 20, 2012 at 7:38 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -This holiday season April Scott had one wish. She wished for her family to be reunited for Christmas. Unfortunately though Scott's boyfriend, Army National Guard Specialist Julio Bottini, was deployed to Kuwait. Scott & Bottini have an 11-month-old child together. Since this was her daughter's first Christmas, Scott decided to take her to the Boulevard Mall and visit Santa and that's where she received the best gift of all. Right before Scott and her daughter were set to take a photo with Santa, Bottini surprised them both inside the mall.

"This is unreal. My heart is pounding out of my chest. I can't believe it," said Scott.

"This is unbelievable," said Bottini, who was holding back tears. "I haven't held my daughter in my arms for close to 9 months."

Bottini says he is now home for good and looks forward to being back in Western New York with family and friends for the holidays. He's also looking forward to celebrating his daughter's first birthday in January.

"I'm just so happy to be here and so happy everyone was able to help me out," said Bottini.