Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 26, 2013

Father-daughter dance provides special bonding

Mark Maynard
The Independent

ASHLAND — Last Thursday night, Ashland’s girls basketball team defeated Boyd County in a hard-fought 64th District championship game.

Afterward, coach Bill Bradley was full of emotion.

“I thought the greatest thing ever was winning that sixth consecutive district championship,” Bradley said. “Not quite.”

It was trumped Saturday night on that same James A. Anderson gym floor.

“It was so strange,” he said. “The same place but a different kind of excitement.”

Bradley escorted his two daughters, Kennedy and Morgan, to the Tri-State Father-Daughter Dance and the emotions of that night were simply sweet.

“We had a blast, an absolute blast, especially the youngest one,” Bradley said. “She was a dancing fool. She won a necklace and went crazy.”

Five-year-old Kennedy was attending her first father-daughter dance. His other daughter, Morgan, 10, was already a veteran of father-daughter events having done one with the Girl Scouts.

“She had some of her basketball buddies here,” Bradley said.

Three seniors at Paul G. Blazer High School were responsible for a night of memories for several fathers and daughters while benefitting a charity at the same time.

Katie Hornbuckle, Kelly Heishman and Amy Carpenter organized the dance, which raised $2,980 for Two Hearts Pregnancy.

“Dads have a hard time bonding with daughters,” Heishman said. “This is a great opportunity for girls of any age to find out  how a gentleman is supposed to treat them when they do start dating.”

Most of the girls at the dance were elementary and middle school age, Heishman said.

Her father, Robert Clark, was there with Heisman and younger sisters Sydney and Sophia Clark. Sydney and Sophia are ages 8 and 4.

Dad was as thrilled with the night as his daughters.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get out and have some fun with your daughters,” he said. “We went last year. My girls look forward to it all year long.”

Hornbuckle, Heishman and Carpenter spoke at all of Ashland’s elementary schools, which translated into a much bigger turnout than last year.

“We don’t have the count, but we had more people than last year,” Hornbuckle said.

The trio of seniors make it a fun event for all involved, complete with a Daddy dance twist-off, limbo and hula hooping.

“The girls were cheering dads on and getting disappointed when their dads got kicked out (of the dance competition),” said Jamey Sellars. “I made it to the final five.”

Roger Robinson, who was there with his granddaughtr Kenzi, won the twist-off, beating out Andrew Wheeler and Chad Tackett.

“We think it was rigged since Roger was the only white-haired guy there,” Sellars said.

The night was special for the girls, including getting photographs taken by Steve Thompson of Kaymag Photography. He posted the photos for free download on Facebook.

“They did everything by donation, which was so nice,” Sellars said. “All the girls seemed to have a great time.”

Sellars was there with hs daughter, Ella, who is 7.

“We kind of treated it like a prom,” he said. “I had to come to the door and pick up my date. We went out to eat and ran into others who had also gone out to eat. It was good father and daughter time.”

Bradley saw another benefit: giving his wife, Laura, the night off from being mom.

“I don’t give her much help from January on,” Bradley said. “She loved the night off. She watched all her shows. It was a good relaxing night for her. That made me feel good, too.”

Sellars said Bill Hornbuckle, Katie’s father, got on the microphone when the first slow dance was played and said: “There shouldn’t be one dad sitting this one out.”

Carpenter said she and her friends learned a lot from the inaugural event last year. They were determined to make it even better.

“We knew it was going to be a good crowd because we had a good crowd by 6 o’clock,” Carpenter said. “We were better organized and knew what we wanted to do.”

The night was a huge success and a growing event. All three organizers, however, are seniors who will be off to college next year so the fate of the dance continuing will have to be handed down.

Heishman said the event meant so much to her it would be worth organizing from college.

“I’d love to come back and do it,” he said. “It was an awesome opportunity for me. We had people working concession stands and taking care of things so I didn’t have to work. I was able to enjoy myself.”

When the first slow dance was called and young girls were climbing on their father’s feet, Heishman got a little emotional herself.

“I had to leave, I was tearing up,” she said. “We get more out of it than anybody.”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.