Officer takes girl, 8, to the annual father-daughter dance after her dad passes away

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VAN BUREN, AR- With all the negative, sad, and angering news lately, let’s take a minute and appreciate a story that even the most avid police hater can appreciate.

An 8-year old girl, Avey Cox, is a second grader at Central Elementary School in Van Buren, Arkansas.  Sadly, her father, Corey, died on January 6 of this year.

Last week, Avey’s school had their annual father-daughter dance.  The second grader had been looking forward to attending, but with the death of her father, she didn’t have anyone to take her.

Enter School Resource Officer, Corporal Nikol Harvey.

Corporal Harvey got approval from Avey’s mom, Angelia Bernard, before asking Avey.  He said:

“I reached out to the mother, the last thing I wanted was to get rejected by a second-grader, and then the next day I formally asked if she’d be my date to the daddy/daughter dance.” 

When Avey emphatically said yes, Corporal Harvey got to work planning the night out.

With his three daughters now grown, Corporal Harvey, 43, told Today Parents:

“I didn’t think I’d ever get to experience it again.”

Corporal Harvey said that Avey saw him every day at school and gave him an update with how many days were left until the dance.

Courtesy of Nicol J. Harvey

Avey had something to look forward to despite losing her dad just a month before.

He purchased a tie and handkerchief to match Avey’s dress and bought her a corsage.  He and 5 other dads chipped in and rented a Hummer limousine to bring them all to the dance, and also took the kids to pizza for dinner.

Corporal Harvey said, “It was nice to watch Avey just taking it all in.” 

After the dance, the dads (and Corporal Harvey) took the girls out to ice cream.  Harvey recalled his favorite moment of the night which occurred at the ice cream shop. 

“Another little girl that was with our party asked, ‘Is this your dad?’ and Avey said, ‘No, this is our School Resource Officer.’  I looked at Avey, and then I said, ‘Well, tonight I’m her dad.’”

To this, Avey laid her head on Corporal Harvey’s arm.

“I know she’s not my kid,” he said, “but for a couple of hours it felt like she really was.  I even got to twirl her.  We’ve really become best friends through all this.”

Courtesy of Nicol J. Harvey

Avey said:

“I was excited because I never went and I had been wanting to go,” but she didn’t think she would ever be able to after her dad died.  After the event, she said, “It meant a lot because I got to go and see all my friends there, and then I got to go with them and have a lot of fun.”

“I embarrassed myself a little bit,” Corporal Harvey said.  “I can’t dance at all.”

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Even so, Avey said that Harvey’s “dance moves” were her favorite part of the night.  She told local reporters her favorite part was “Getting to take pics together and me and him dancing.”

Courtesy of Angelia Bernard

After pizza, the dance, and ice cream, Avey got escorted home in Corporal Harvey’s police car.

Angelia was grateful that Corporal Harvey stepped up to make sure Avey was still included despite her loss.  She told reporters:

“It was such a bright spot in the hard month we’ve had.  Avey keeps saying it was the best night ever.”

Corporal Harvey said that he hopes he can take Avey to the father-daughter dance every year.

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