Christmas came early for Philadelphia 76ers dancer, Angela DeStasio. The 23-year-old was surprised by her boyfriend of three years, Amry Sgt. Elliot Burgos, 29, after one of her gameday performances in early December.
Sgt. Burgos spent 11 months on deployment, where he was stationed in Kuwait and Jordan. DeStasio didn’t think he was returning to the U.S. for another week, so when the 76ers played a pre-recorded video message from Burgos on the stadium’s big screen during a time-out, she had no idea he was actually in the building.
Then, he emerged in his fatigues and and met her at center court.
— JoAnn Pileggi (@joannpileggi) December 3, 2017
“There’s not many people who can surprise a loved one in front of 20,000 people, so I’m a lucky man,” he told FOX 29.
His cover was nearly blown, though, when he flew into Newark and ran into a friend, who wanted to post the encounter on social media.
I’m like ‘No no no no no,’” Sgt. Burgos told FOX 29.
The day after the surprise, Destasio was sill in disbelief, according to her Facebook post.
“Still cannot believe that this is real life!! I am so blessed to finally have my love home with me for the first time in eleven months,” she wrote. “He never fails to put a smile on my face on a normal day, but yesterday was unimaginable. The amount of work and planning that went into that moment was huge. I could not have asked for a better surprise. I am still in awe. I am a very lucky woman.”
i will never get over this. pic.twitter.com/1L55kZlWFL
— ang destasio (@ang_destasio) December 5, 2017
DeStasio is a highly talented dancer despite battling cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease she was diagnosed with at 3 years old that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body.
besides my father, elliott is the best man i know. he does so much for me without me even asking him to. i’m just really obsessed & grateful. pic.twitter.com/RmBEwrTMyq
— ang destasio (@ang_destasio) December 12, 2017
According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was hospitalized dozens of times during her childhood, DeStasio manages her condition with regular treatments and medication changes, so she can continue dancing at a high level. She went on to attend college at Marymount Manhattan College, where she was a dance major and only a few friends knew about her condition.
In 2016 she performed in Train at the Theresa Lang Theater in New York, and today, she works as a dance teacher in New Jersey.
Here’s how she lives with cystic fibrosis as a professional dancer: