If men measure friendship by the lengths they go to tease each other, then for Army Capt. Sam Giltner, the only thing more heartwarming than learning his pals had used a bad photo of him to create a bobblehead figurine was the reason why.
Giltner, a 2002 Avon High School graduate, is serving a 9-month deployment in Iraq. So to help his wife, Rachel, and especially their sons Eli (7), Alex (4) and Jack (2), cope with his absence, his friends Bill MacLeod and Erich Hofman had several bobbleheads made from a photograph of Sam.
“Honestly, my first reaction was laughter,” said Rachel Giltner, a 2006 graduate of Brownsburg High School. “I never dreamed that I would have a bobblehead version of my husband.”
MacLeod and Hofman presented one doll to the Giltner family, kept one for them, and send the others with people traveling the country, and even the world. The travelers snap a photo of Bobble Head Sam in front of interesting landmarks and then post it online for the kids to follow.
“They get very excited when they see their dad’s picture,” Rachel said. “We actually have a Bobble Head Sam that we keep with us too. We take it with us on family outings and when the kids have school functions because real daddy isn’t here. We take bobblehead daddy with us to kind of fill that void.”
So how did Sam’s friends come up with the idea? MacLeod, an Indianapolis firefighter, said he left his tablet behind one night and so Sam took an “obnoxious” selfie on it. The initial plan for the bobblehead was payback for the photo, but that soon changed.
“When we got the news that he was going to be flying to Iraq this year, it hit everybody really hard,” Macleod said. “Do we want to do this the way we envisioned it where we are just going to embarrass him and put him in all kinds of precarious situations? But it was really that first day when we decided that we were going to do something to make sure the boys are happy and having fun.”
In an email from Iraq, Sam said that he appreciated what his friends were able to do for his boys back home.
“The real impact was for my boys. I knew they would love to have something fun to keep with them while I was gone. It truly makes it easier to deploy knowing I have a tremendous support network in the States.”
For more information, check out ‘The Adventures of Bobblehead Sam’ on Facebook.