Sometimes, it takes a only a moment to make a man stop and appreciate his relationship with his daughter.
Sometimes, that moment is profound enough to make a man want to share that feeling with as many fathers as he can touch.
Those are the driving forces behind the Father-Daughter Dance and Gala, which is presented by The O’Neal-Murphy Agency and is now in its sixth year. It will be held at the Legends Club on Father’s Day.
Bob O’Neal, who created the event, has always had a close relationship with his daugther, LaTonya O’Neal. .
She has always been his little girl.
But one Father’s Day she asked him to attend a father-daughter dance at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
Bob admitted he was a little reluctant, preferring to stay home and watch a ballgame and not make a big fuss over the occasion.
It took a little persuasion, but LaTonya talked her dad into putting on a suit and taking her to the dance.
“When I got there, what I saw actually blew me away,” he said. “I saw so many dads, so many different ages, so many different colors and complexions.
Everybody was dressed up. Little girls had their little tiaras and gowns on.
“I’ve had a lot of Father’s Days, but I have never had one like that,” he said.
They danced the night away, and in between talked about life, relationships, work and business – things they had never really discussed before.
“He always saw me as his little girl, and I am his little girl. But I felt like I was able to talk to him at this stage in my life as a woman, and he listened to me,” LaTonya said.
Bob said he knew he needed to give other fathers the opportunity to connect with their daughters in a similar manner, so he created the Father’s Day gala here.
Fathers and daughters of all ages are invited to an event that O’Neal and a team of organizers work to make as special as possible.
It includes dinner and dancing, professional photography, prizes and a silent auction. Last year, clowns and face painting entertained the little ones in the crowd.
O’Neal said he isn’t doing anything magical by presenting a gala to the community.
“We’re putting you together at a special moment. That’s the magic behind this thing,” he said.
Just as important to him was the opportunity to raise money to support charity. Proceeds from previous galas have been used to donated to the Ronald McDonald House, SafeHomes of Augusta, Augusta Technical College and the James Brown Children Family Foundation.
On the night of the event, when O’Neal isn’t enjoying a dance with his daughter – or conversation with his wife and son who will also be there – he will be reading the faces of other dads in the room.
“I don’t want anything. All I want is to see dads … see the look on his face. That’s what I want to see. I’ll know at that point he has been touched. That’s payback enough for me,” he said.