Al Roker is spending the week rewarding some special dads across the country with well-deserved surprises ahead of Father's Day, continuing on Thursday by surprising a grandfather of 11 who shares a common bond with the TODAY meteorologist.
Just like he did during Thanksgiving week last year with his "Turkey Trot" series, Al is all about spreading the love across the country, this time as part of his "Backyard Barbecue" tour aimed at spotlighting great fathers who have been nominated by friends and family.
On Thursday, Melvin Bradley, 64, thought he was filming a commercial for FedEx, his former employer of 20 years, when Al surprised him alongside his family at his home in Palm Coast, Florida.
Bradley was a meteorologist in the Air Force for 20 years, then became a chief meteorologist for FedEx and later did the weather for a local television station in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, giving him and Al plenty to talk about. Al asked Bradley if he was surprised by his visit.
"I'm in weather - we're never surprised!" Bradley said before laughing.
Al was also joined by pitmaster Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson BBQ in Alabama to help Bradley, a grill enthusiast passing on his love of it to his grandsons, whip up some country-style boneless pork ribs, grilled watermelon and tomato salad.
On Wednesday, Al surprised a military dad who has a love for serving his country and grilling up meals for his family. He made it a special day for SFC Chris Nuyen, 39, of the Army's 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, surprising him during his physical training exercises.
Nuyen was nominated by his wife, Lisa, for being a great dad to Kyle, 14; McKenzie, 10; Connor, 10; and Ian, 4, by helping foster their passions and encouraging a love of sports statistics by Connor, who has autism. Chris also has a love for grilling to the point that he even cooked something up on his first date with Lisa.
Joining Al in the surprise was Food Network star Sunny Anderson, who helped Chris whip up an easy pesto potato salad.
Al kicked off the series on Tuesday with a trip to Hudson, Wisconsin, to surprise Mike Pooler, a father of two who strongly resembles Jeff Bridges' iconic character Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski from "The Big Lebowski."
Pooler, who fully embraces "The Dude" character and even has the same sweaters, is a loving father of Annie, 19, and Daniel, 16, the latter of whom has autism.
Al not only joined family and friends in surprising Mike in the backyard of his brother's home, he brought champion BBQ pitmaster Myron Mixon to cook up some Flintstone-style beef ribs for "The Dude."
The family has had financial difficulties since his wife quit her job to take care of Daniel full time, but Mike has retained a sunny outlook on life that has endeared him to family and friends. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise money for Daniel's care.
"We're always under the gun,'' he said. "We tapdance, but we know that the reason that we do it is worth it. I can give up the monetary things, the physical things - they're important, but not that important. It's easy to make those decisions when you've got a good reason."
"He is someone who has taught me to work hard and believe in what I want to do,'' Annie said on TODAY. "He's been there my entire life and he 100 percent deserves this."
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