The YMCA’s Father Daughter Dance makes memories that last a lifetime

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By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor

The YMCA of the Coosa Valley’s annual Father Daughter Dance is one of the most highly anticipated events in Etowah County during the month of February — and this year marks number 15 for the dance.

Some families, like Tony Hathcock’s family, circle the date on all their calendars every year.

“We’ve been going since probably 2009,” Hathcock said. “We’ve only missed one and that was because I was in the hospital and couldn’t go. I’ve taken all my girls.”

When Hathcock says “all my girls,” he means all of his four daughters — Mary Reagan, Caroline, Charlotte and Emma.

The tradition began when his eldest daughter Mary Reagan was a little girl. The now 18-year-old will not be able to attend the dance this year, but Hathcock will still take 9-year-old Caroline and twin 6-year-olds Charlotte and Emma.

“We have a great time and it’s a lot of fun for the girls to get dressed up,” he said. “It gives them a chance to dress up and have fun and know how special they are. We look forward to it every year. Spending that time together is special.”

Hathcock, a financial service representative with the Gadsden office of Northwestern Mutual, enjoys spending time with his four children and his wife Heather Burns Hathcock. According to Hathcock, his wife gets to have fun with the girls too.

Leading up to the big dance she and the girls will go shopping to find the perfect dress for each daughter — sometimes the search is quick and other times, it takes a while.

“We’re still working on getting dresses,” Hathcock said. “I think we’re almost ready.”

Then, when the perfect dress is found, the girls return home and do a little fashion show for Hathcock.

“They love the little fashion shows,” Hathcock said. “This sort of thing raises their confidence. Spotlighting them and making them feel special is good.”

Hathcock was born and raised in Etowah County and graduated from Westbrook in 1999. After a stint in the military, he returned home and did some work at the YMCA gym in Gadsden. When the organization announced it would be selling its building, Hathcock was concerned.

“When I first read that the Y was selling the building my immediate first question was ‘what about the dance?’” Hathcock said. “But when I found out that they were still going to have the dance, and that they weren’t closing for good, I was relieved.”

According to Heidi Darbo, CEO of YMCA of the Coosa Valley, selling the building confused some people in the community and they assumed with no building, the organization was finished in Etowah County. That assumption would be false.

“We are thrilled to advance our mission by breaking free of our walls and serving in more places than ever before,” Darbo said. “In addition to offering the Father Daughter Dance for 15 years, we also work alongside local leaders to serve our community in areas like after school, senior fitness programming, aquatics programming and more.”

The YMCA’s mission is still going strong, as is evident by the continuing programs the organization offers.

“At this time, we are serving over 400 children in afterschool and developing innovative partnerships to provide more support to our local school systems,” Darbo explained. “We hold a Senior fitness program for Parkinson’s patients and those who need help with balance at the Rainbow City Rec Center and we will offer lifeguarding and swim lessons at the Hokes Bluff Pool this Spring and Summer.”

The mission is the same, but there is a new slogan for the group — “The Y Without Walls.” The changes are to better serve a larger group of people in different areas of the county. The change has not been without some challenges, but Darbo believes the best is yet to come.

“The YMCA Board and I would like to express a thank you to those who have supported us in our recent transition,” Darbo said. “You can find me at the Venue 2, by appointment, if you would like to join our bright future. We are also in the process of relaunching our website.”

The Father Daughter Dance will be held at 210 at the Tracks in downtown Gadsden on February 18, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 for a father and daughter duo and $5 for each additional daughter. There will be a professional photographer on site to capture special moments and a DJ to keep the party lively.

Hathcock knows his Swiftie daughters are hoping for some Taylor Swift songs.

“They’re all Swifties,” Hathcock said. “They’ll dance around to the fun songs and dance with me for the slow songs.”

There will also be FRIOS Popsicles on site, as well as other food and treats.

Tickets are on sale now on EventBrite and tickets will be available at the door for an additional cost.

For more information on the dance, email infoymcacoosavalley@gmail.com.

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