Deer Valley • Katelyn Humiston planned on surprising her mom with breakfast on Mother's Day. So the 9-year-old was a bit disappointed to learn her family had other plans.
All was forgiven Sunday when Katelyn realized there was a fancy brunch with crab involved.
The Humistons joined several other Utah families with husbands and fathers deployed across the world for a special Mother's Day brunch at the J&G Grill inside the upscale St. Regis Deer Valley hotel.
"I had scrambled eggs, bacon and crab. I just love crab," said Katelyn, adding that her breakfast would not have included anything from the ocean. "It is really special to be able to come up here and it is so nice of them. It [having her dad away] is really hard, and my mom deserves it."
This is the third year St. Regis Deer Valley has welcomed families of deployed airmen for a Mother's Day meal. It was something general manager Stan Kaminski started while working at a hotel near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in southern California.
Kaminski, who grew up a "military brat" with his father serving 27 years in the Air Force, met some people from Hill Air Force Base at a trade show and asked if they would be interested in helping start a similar tradition in Utah.
"It is hard to understand the heartache of a mother or a father being away for six months," Kaminski said. "Hopefully, this is a little slice of heaven for them to come up and see us. This is just us saying thank you with a capital T and a capital Y."
The HAFB families boarded a bus to Deer Valley and then rode the St. Regis' funicular up to the restaurant where a fancy meal was waiting. King crab, shrimp cocktail, oysters, asparagus prosciutto quiche and elegant French pastries were just a few of the selections on the buffet. J&G Grill staff gladly honored special orders for hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries from some of their younger guests.
Katelyn's mother, Stephanie Humiston, said every day that her husband, Lt. Col. Darin Humiston, is away is difficult, but that on Mother's Day she feels his absence more than usual.
The Humistons have been married for 13 years and have been apart four times on Mother's Day. (But Darin Humiston did send flowers that arrived Saturday.)
"This is so wonderful. It is very comforting to get a day away, especially on Mother's Day. I know our husbands like the idea of us being taken care of while they are away," she said. "To have the community rally to support the troops and families is something I am always amazed by. In the 18 years he has served this has been the most supportive place we have been."
After helping her four children get their meals, Amanda Brass finally got a chance to sit down and enjoy her special Mother's Day brunch. She was also thankful of the opportunity to get out of the house and for the kindness she and the other families enjoyed. Her husband, Master Sgt. Vincent Brass, is deployed to Korea but stays in touch with his family on Skype.
"The kids miss their dad and I miss my husband. The little ones think their dad lives on a computer," she said. "It is amazing that people will take care us like this while he is away."
Col. Kathryn Kolbe, 75th Air Base Wing and installation commander, is appreciative of the unwavering support the HAFB airmen receive from the community.
"Our servicemen and their families sacrifice so much, and support like the Mother's Day brunch does not go unnoticed," she said. "Team Hill deployed more than 1,300 people last year, and this type of event helps the families experience all the wonderful things Utah has to offer."
Next time Katelyn Humiston talks to her dad in Afghanistan she plans to tell him all about the excursion.
"I'll tell him that it was a really nice brunch that really nice people put together and that it was for a good cause," she said. "I think he would like knowing we got to do this."