Audrey Soape, 11, intended to attend her church’s father-daughter dance with her father, but he died abruptly in March 2021, according to CBS News. Her grandfather, who would have accompanied her to the dance in her father’s absence, died a few weeks later. Soape’s mother took a chance and requested Anthony Harris, the family’s favorite NFL player, to accompany her daughter. He consented, much to her astonishment.
“It was just a very tumultuous time for all of us. Very emotional,” Holly Soape, Audrey’s mother, told CBS News. “A lot of grief, a lot of sadness, a lot of anger. So anytime that I have the opportunity to bring joy or excitement into both my children’s lives, I absolutely jump at that moment.”
Audrey began to feel anxious about the dance a few weeks before the event.
“I knew that if she was going to go, that I wanted it to be something really incredible,” Soape shared with CBS News. “Something that would just make her feel special and would make her feel loved and important. So I tried to think of the coolest thing that I could come up with.”
When she was thinking of date ideas for her daughter, Harris came to mind. According to The Washington Post, the two have been in occasional contact since March 2020.
Soape decided to reach out to the athlete after her husband died, “hoping he would send back a word of condolence.”
According to The Washington Post, Harris was raised by a single mother in Richmond, and when he heard about the Soape family, he grabbed at the chance to help.
“I was like super surprised. Like, more than I can explain surprised. And I was also like, really nervous,” Audrey said. “Probably more nervous than excited at the beginning, because I didn’t know what I was going to say or do around him.”
Harris ensured that the experience would be remembered by the entire family. Audrey told the news site that she became more comfortable with Harris as time went on and that he provided her with a new dress and heels, as well as arranging for her to “get her hair and make up done before the event.”
“He felt more like my friend, and I could talk to him and open up to him more,” she said.
Soape was the chaperone for the father-daughter dance, and she was overjoyed that her plan had worked off.
“As the night progressed he really went out of his way to just make sure she felt special, that she felt comfortable and that she was having a good time,” she said.