Climbing the stairs to the Union Ballroom, little girls dressed as princesses were holding onto their father’s hand to enjoy an evening of Disney magic. Not only was Belle and the Beast present to take pictures at the banquet and ball, but it was an evening of father daughter bonding.
“We specifically targeted dads and daughters with the military, so that it would be an opportunity for dads to bring their daughters to a ball,” said Briana Nelson Goff, director of K-State’s Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families.
This night was especially special for one family as the dad is deployed in Afghanistan, but has come home for the holidays on leave.
Unsuspecting of his children, Major Bill Young of the 1st Infantry division and his wife, Sarah, decided to surprise his children.
Young said he talked to his wife a couple of days prior to the event and agreed to surprise the kids at the event.
As the families filled the ballroom Tuesday night, Young was hidden downstairs, waiting anxiously to be reunited with his three children.
“I’m a little nervous,” said Young. “I don’t know how they’re going to act. They’re probably going to scream and act crazy, maybe a little shocked. It will probably be a little emotional for them, well for both of us, but it’s going to be exciting cause I haven’t seen them since I left back at the end of March, beginning of April.”
When the time came, Young made is way upstairs to see the reactions on his family’s face.
Riley County Commissioner Dave Lewis was the MC for the event and managed to get the family ready for the reveal by having them pose with Belle and the Beast for pictures.
Young made his way out and the reactions had a number of those in attendance in tears, as the family ended up in a giant hug.
After the dinner ended and the conclusion of Beauty and the Beast at McCain, the Young family will have the holiday to spend together.
“It’s a short time,” Young said. “But time well spent.”