Each year, the daddy-daughter dance at the local church in Pflugerville, Texas was a highly anticipated event for 11-year-old Audrey Soape. It was a highlight that she looked forward to, attending the dance with her father.
However, tragedy struck in March of the previous year when Audrey lost her father in a devastating accident. To add to the family's sorrow, her grandfather, who would have been her substitute date, also passed away just five weeks later.
"It was an incredibly challenging time for all of us. Emotions ran high—grief, sadness, anger—it was overwhelming," shared Audrey's mother, Holly Soape, in an interview with CBS News. "Whenever I have the opportunity to bring joy and excitement into my children's lives, I seize that moment without hesitation."
Determined to ensure that her daughter could still experience the dance with her friends, Holly began brainstorming various options. "Knowing how emotional and disappointing it would be for Audrey not to attend the dance, she mentioned it a few times, expressing her wish to go," said Soape. "At one point, she even asked if I could be her escort. I wanted to make it an extraordinary experience for her, something that would make her feel special, loved, and important. So, I racked my brain to come up with the most amazing idea."
Holly had a truly remarkable idea—to invite Anthony Harris, a Philadelphia Eagles football player who had long been a favorite of their family. "I knew it was a long shot. I didn't really expect him to say yes," admitted Soape. "But I was completely shocked and overjoyed when he agreed to do it."
Harris had been the family's beloved NFL player for years, and Holly Soape had been periodically corresponding with him through Instagram since March 2020. Every few months, she would reach out to him, offering encouragement and prayers before important games or during transitional periods in his career. To her delight, he would respond, and a connection began to form, even though they had never met.
Soape had also messaged Harris the day after her husband's death, hoping for a word of condolence. Being raised by a single mother himself, Harris wanted to reciprocate the support that Soape had shown him over the years.
When the football season ended for the Philadelphia Eagles in mid-January, Harris informed Soape that he would fly from Florida, where he resided during the off-season, to Texas to accompany Audrey to the father-daughter dance. "I was incredibly surprised. Words cannot fully express just how surprised I was. I was also quite nervous," shared Audrey. "At first, I was more nervous than excited because I didn't know how to act or what to say around him."
In addition to his presence, Harris purchased a beautiful new dress and shoes for Audrey to wear to the dance. He also arranged for her to have her hair and makeup professionally done before the event. As the evening progressed, Audrey's nerves began to subside. "As time went by, he felt more like a friend, and I felt more comfortable opening up to him," Audrey revealed.
Holly Soape volunteered to chaperone the event, allowing her to be a part of the special occasion as well. She praised Harris for his efforts in ensuring Audrey's comfort and enjoyment throughout the night. "He initiated conversations with her, asking about her day and her dad, making her laugh, and eventually coaxing her onto the dance floor. As the night went on, he went above and beyond to make her feel special, at ease, and to ensure she had a great time," recalled Soape.
"In the days that followed, we were still in awe. As I flipped through the pictures, I realized that it actually happened. He truly came," she said. "They had an incredible time. Seeing the radiant smile on Audrey's face was simply indescribable."
Despite the challenges the Soape family faced that year, thanks to Harris' kindness, Audrey was able to create cherished memories at the father-daughter dance. "It truly transformed the narrative of the entire year. It had been a dark, difficult year that ended on an incredibly positive note. It brought us a glimmer of joy and light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It was truly a magical experience for everyone involved," expressed Soape.
Watch the wonderful video below: