5-year-old Cayleigh didn’t have her daddy to take her to the dance, so Sgt. Bierbrodt swooped in to be her escort.
Daddy-daughter dances are a staple of growing up for many girls and women. There are a lot of fond memories to be made at those school dances and it’s a great way to bond with your dad. But what’s a girl to do if she doesn’t have a father? For one little girl, a whole group of soldiers and servicemembers stepped up to make her night one to remember.
The little girl’s father was a soldier.
Cayleigh Hinton was 4 years old when her father lost his life in a military training accident. Without her father around, she had no one to take her to her school’s upcoming daddy-daughter dance. This event is a special one for many families, and her mother was worried about what to do.
So she put out a request to have someone from the National Guard take her little girl to the dance. She and her late husband had talked about this moment for a long time, and she was determined to make it happen for her.
First Sergeant Joseph Bierbrodt saw the request and felt up to the task.
From his perspective, “it had to be done.” He elaborated further by saying to ABC 7 Chicago:
“It wasn’t even really a choice for me. I view it as an honor to be able to do this for her.”
So Sergeant Bierbrodt accepted the request and began to make plans to make it a very special night for young Cayleigh.
Sergeant Bierbrodt did not know the family at all. He just believed that it was the right thing to do, and he wanted to make the night as special as possible for Cayleigh.
As a father himself, he knew that he would want someone to do this for his daughters if the opportunity arose. He tells the Chicago Tribune:
“I consider it a huge honor to be able to do this. We never forget the ones who have left, or leave their families unattended.”
He also arrived with some special gifts. Like any gentleman, he made sure to show up with a bouquet of flowers. He also got his date for the night a teddy bear and a stuffed dog that his own daughter’s had loved.
Sergeant Bierbrodt didn’t just act alone. A whole community of people worked together.
In addition to a limo to bring the pair to the dance, a whole lot of service members got together to escort them. Arriving at the Our Lady of Humility School, where the dance was being held, were the Patriot Guard, police, and firefighters in addition to Sergeant Bierbrodt and Cayleigh.
And Cayleigh got the full princess treatment that night. She was decked out in glittery shoes, a party dress, and a cape to wear around it. She even had a corsage to accessorize.
Even with all the glitz and glamour, there was still time to honor Cayleigh’s father.
During her special day, Cayleigh took the time to remember her father. He had talked about bringing her to a daddy-daughter dance eventually, but they never had the time. But, Jillian Hinton, Cayleigh’s mother, says, their young daughter had him with her in spirit.
“He’s definitely here in spirit. I heard Cayleigh talking to him while she was getting ready, and I have no doubt she has him with her tonight.”
The two danced the night away and had a wonderful time.
They danced the whole night at the school gymnasium, and Cayleigh and Sergeant Bierbrodt came away with some very special memories. Since some other military members and firefighters also escorted her to the dance, Cayleigh made sure to dance with each and every officer who was with her.
For her part, Cayleigh had this to say about her night:
“It’s a very special day because we’re celebrating my dad. He was a very, very, very special dad to me, and he was a good soldier.”