When 12-year-old Ryan went to school in Fort McMurray, Alta., last week, he was expecting it to be a normal day.
Needless to say, it wasn’t.
The boy ended up getting caught in a mass evacuation of 88,000 people as wildfires suddenly roared into the community. K. A. Clark elementary school principal Merrie-Rae Mitsopoulos scrambled to contact as many parents as she could to arrange for pickups. But in all the chaos, some simply couldn’t be reached. As a result, she was eventually forced to load the remaining children onto a school bus and evacuate the area.
Ryan was among them.
“There was stuff falling down. I could look over the hillside and I could see trees and houses burning up high on the hill from our schoolyard,” Mitsopoulos said. “It was terrifying because there was so much unknown. You don’t necessarily know where you’re going to be evacuated to.”
The school bus ended up travelling south for Edmonton, while Ryan’s mother, Priscillah Moatshe, ended up getting stuck in a camp north of Fort McMurray. That meant that for more than two days, Moatshe was completely separated from her son. She didn’t know where he was, or even if Ryan was OK.
Thankfully though, when the dust finally settled days later, Moatshe’s neighbour was able to email Mitsopoulos with their location, and soon they were able to setup a meeting point. Moatshe was ecstatic.
“He’s coming right now, I’m so excited,” she said as she waited for his bus to arrive.
When her son finally appears in the distance, the moment that follows is extremely powerful. Moatshe throws her purse down onto the concrete, breaks into a full sprint, and embraces her son in full-blown bear hug.
“I’ll never go anywhere, OK? I’ll never go anywhere, baby,” she says as tears start to form in Ryan’s eyes.
It just goes to show, few things are stronger than a mother’s bond. You can check out the heartwarming moment yourself in the video above.