May 22, 2014 10:56 AM EDT

A man who rescued a baby girl who was abandoned in a cemetery 18 years ago recently surprised her at her Illinois high school graduation, 14 News reports.

Skyler James just graduated from Charleston High School in Charleston, Illinois, and is college-bound, but 18 years ago, Charlie Heflin found her as a newborn, whimpering in a Champagne, Illinois, cemetery, covered in blood, with an umbilical cord still attached, after an anonymous woman told 911 dispatchers there was a baby there.

He handed the baby over to paramedics, and she was adopted five days later by Bonnie and Greg James, who tracked down Heflin a few weeks ago through the local fire department and invited him to Skyler’s high school graduation ceremony and party.

It’s the latest touching surprise reunion that has made headlines this graduation season, from the sailor who showed up to his daughter’s fifth grade graduation in Blue Springs, Missouri, to the Army Reserve Captain stationed in Afghanistan who surprised his daughter on stage during her engineering school graduation at Columbia University.



Write to Olivia B. Waxman at

Read More From TIME

Related Stories