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What a blessing: Tacoma Gold Star family finds magic after unicorn theft

Alexandra and Declan play with inflatable unicorn toy (KOMO Photo)

TACOMA, Wash. -- The greatest blessing in Alexandra McClintock’s life arrived on October 21, 2015. That is when she and her husband, Sergeant First Class Matthew McClintock, welcomed their son Declan with open arms.

“Sometimes it feels like I dreamed it, then I see the pictures and know that I didn’t,” Alexandra said. “It was the most beautiful moment of my life, probably.”

But blessings were hard to come by after that. Ten days later, Matthew declined the Army’s offer to stay in Tacoma and instead returned to Afghanistan. Two months later, he was killed in combat, leaving Alexandra to raise Declan alone.

Soon their little boy started showing signs of severe autism. He wouldn’t speak and struggled to socialize. It was a new challenge for his loving mother.

“It’s exhausting,” she said. “I’m tired all the time. Becoming a widow didn’t make me get gray hair but boy I’ve got a lot of them now.”

But Alexandra found something so special in their journey. She considers every small step forward so rewarding.

“It’s such a blessing,” she said.

And few moments meant more than when she put, of all things, an inflatable unicorn in their front yard a couple months ago, and Declan came alive.

He would smile and dance beneath the giant toy, showing more energy and affection around it.

“It just made him happy,” Alexandra said.

But this week, another hurdle. Early Monday morning, someone stole Declan’s unicorn from the yard.

“They took something he finds joys in,” she said. “Take anything that belongs to me. But my son, he’s already lost way too much. He shouldn’t have to lose his favorite toy too.”

So Alexandra posted a plea on Facebook. Then something amazing happened.

On Wednesday a unicorn showed up from strangers across several states who pooled money so no Gold Star family would face this loss.

Then, Thursday, a second arrived from the parents of Matthew’s senior in the Army, James Grissom, who was killed five years ago.

And Alexandra just found out two more are on the way.

“Sometimes I feel like Matt was forgotten, like I was forgotten, and worst of all, like my son, who doesn’t have his dad, was forgotten,” she said. “I guess we know for sure that he never was, and never will be. Everyone will always take up for Declan.”

It turns out there’s a name for this. A herd of unicorns is called a “blessing.”

And this blessing was nothing short of magical.

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