Before the high-stakes pressure of prom or the heartwarming staple that is the father-daughter dance at most weddings, there’s the daddy-daughter dances that many schools host for their young students.
These events are much-anticipated for many little girls, but for others it’s a reminder of loss.
Avey Cox, an 8-year-old from Van Buren, Arkansas, knew the dance was coming up, but she’d lost her father at the beginning of the year.
“They were very close,” Angelia Bernard, the girl’s mother, told NBC’s “Today.”
“Avey wanted to go to the dance but didn’t have anyone to take her.”
At the same time as Avey was contemplating the sadness of the dance without having a dad to go with, there was a dad who was remembering how fun the daddy-daughter dances had been and how he had no one to go with since his kids were older.
That dad was 43-year-old school resource officer Nicol Harvey.
Thankfully, his chief made a suggestion that brought him and Avey together: Van Buren Police Department Chief Jamie Hammond recommended that his school resource officers see if they could sub in for missing fathers.
And so Harvey was given Avey’s name by the school guidance counselor, and he set about to see if she and her mother were comfortable with him taking Avey to the dance.
“I reached out to the mother, the mother came said it was OK — because last thing I want to do is get rejected by a second-grader,” he explained to KFSM-TV. “So, her mom talked to her about it and the next day I formally asked her if she would be my date to the daddy/daughter dance.”
She said yes, so Harvey and five other dads started planning to go as a group, even pitching in to rent a limousine.
“I bought a new tie and handkerchief to match Avey’s dress and I ordered a corsage,” Harvey said. “Every time I saw her at school, she’d remind me of how many days it was until the dance.”
The dance was perfect, with a pizza dinner before, ice cream after and plenty of dancing and laughter.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get to experience it again,” Harvey said. “It was nice to watch Avey just taking it all in.”
“Another little girl that was with our party asked, ‘Is this your dad?’ and Avey said, ‘No, this is our school resource officer,'” he added. “I looked at Avey, and then I said, ‘Well, tonight I’m her dad.'”
“I know she’s not my kid, but for a couple of hours it felt like she really was. I even get to twirl her,” he added.
“We’ve really become best friends through all this.”
Avey was thrilled to be able to participate after all, and according to her mother, she can’t stop talking about it.
“It was such a bright spot in the hard month we’ve had,” Bernard said. “Avey keeps saying it was the best night ever.”
“It meant a lot because I actually got to go see all my friends there and then I got to go with him and have a lot of fun,” Avey explained.
“We have the BEST School Resource Officers!” the Van Buren School District Facebook page shared on Friday.
“Nick Harvey and all of our SROs go above and beyond everyday for our students. Thank you to 5NEWS for highlighting the Van Buren Police Department School Resource Officers!”
On a final heartwarming note, according to KFSM-TV, Harvey says he’s willing to take Avey to any future daddy-daughter events she might be interested in.
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