By Mr. Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)April 14, 2016
It looked like a scene from "Cinderella" as dads and their "little girls" of all ages arrived at Nutter Field House Friday and Saturday for the annual Fort Leonard Wood Father Daughter Ball.
According to organizers, the event has proven so popular, they planned two identical events, on separate nights, to make sure everyone who wanted to attend had the opportunity to do so.
There was a buffet dinner, dancing and a lot of posing for the cameras; but most important of all, it was an opportunity for fathers to share a "special" evening with their daughters, said Chaplain (Col.) Michael Thomas, senior installation chaplain.
While welcoming the dads and their daughters to the ball, Thomas displayed a pair of his daughter's ballet shoes.
"It doesn't matter if a child is 3 or 23, every little girl I have ever met loves to twirl," Thomas said as he held them up for the crowd. He said the slippers were representative of the acronym SHOE -- which he said exemplified the significance of the relationship between a father and daughter.
"The 'S' stands for say a blessing to your daughter," Thomas said. "Tell your daughter she is beautiful, give her your blessing."
He said the "H" stands for honor.
"Honor her mother. Most likely she is going to marry someone that is going to treat her the same way you treated her mother. H also stands for hug your daughter," he said.
"'O' is for observe time with your daughter. It is important to spend time with your daughter," Thomas said. He rounded out the acronym by saying the "E" stands for encourage.
"There is no relationship more special than the relationship between a father and daughter. I want to encourage you to continue to love on your daughter -- pour into her -- give her life, give her time, show her how much you care," he said.
For many of the fathers, Thomas's message seemed to resonate. Dads could be seen helping their young daughters fix their plates, pour their drinks, wipe their faces and even "twirling" them around the dance floor. The dancing sessions included both slow and fast songs provided by "DJ Steve" and the Mother Road Brass Band, from the 399th Army Band.
For 6-year-old Leah Villarreal, the ball is an event her and her sister, Melanie, 5, have looked forward to for months.
"We get to dance -- spend time with dad," Leah said.
Their father, Robert Villarreal, said it is an annual tradition for their Family.
"It's a great time to take my two beautiful girls out -- a great night of fun," he said.
Another father, Craig Williams, said the evening was about focusing on his two daughters and strengthening their relationships.
"It's all about quality time -- I just wanted to spend some time with my daughters and enjoy the evening with them," Williams said.