When they wrote a letter to their father in heaven, young Kollin and Keagan Cass never expected to hear back from some guardian angels.
"To Daddy in Heaven" was the message written on the front of an envelope that quickly floated up into the sky after being tied to some colourful, helium-filled balloons.
Kollin, who was five at the time and Keagan, three, were marking their first Father's Day without their dad, Kyle Cass, who died of brain cancer in February.
The young kids prayed that their father would receive their loving notes and hand-drawn pictures in heaven, sent all the way from Swartz Creek, Michigan.
But it wasn't him who received it.
Two days after the balloon and letter lifted off into the air, it touched down in the backyard of Heather and Tim Wilcox in Petrolia, Ont.
A 'small gesture' for a grieving family
As soon as she read the letter, Heather said she could tell the family was going through a tough time. She was touched and wanted to take action, so began searching for a way to contact their mother, Samantha.
After finding Kyle's obituary online and linking it to Samantha's Facebook page, Heather sent her a message.
"We felt it was important to reach out to this family because they were grieving," Heather said. "On our behalf it was a very small gesture to help a family."
With Samantha's permission and after consultation with a child psychologist, Wilcox sent a large cardboard box to the Cass family filled with presents from their "guardian angels," helpers that their father selected.
"They didn't really know at first what it was," explained Samantha. But once they opened the box it didn't take long for the kids to figure out what was happening.
As soon as three-year-old Keagan pulled a big stuffed animal she squealed, "a teddy bear from daddy!"
Her brother's reaction was almost identical as he unwrapped a toy replica of Kyle's red car, "a Corvette, it's just like my dad's!"
Heather had the toy car shipped all the way from British Columbia, as it was the only one she could find that looked exactly like Kyle's.
Months have passed, but Samantha is still reeling over the 154 kilometres of water, forest and fields the balloons sailed over before finding the "guardian angels" — let alone the box full of gifts and love that followed.
"It's above and beyond to even reach out and offer support in my opinion but to then go that extra step," she said, with tears in her eyes. "I fully believe Kyle picked this family to do something amazing for my kids."
Families plan to meet up
Samantha sent a video of her children opening the gifts to Wilcox, who said watching their reactions was priceless.
"We cried… We were very happy it gave them some joy and it was very touching for us to see we were able to do one small thing to help them," Wilcox said.
The families have been speaking regularly over Facebook and have plans to meet up in November. Samantha said they are excited to thank their "guardian angels" in person.
"We've been touched … there is no other way to describe it," she explained. "This family is just a gift from above."