WHO: The Soape family of Pflugerville and Philadelphia Eagles safety Anthony Harris.
WHAT: A local church’s father-daughter dance, and a story about an Eagles player that’ll warm the heart of even the staunchest Cowboys fan.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Via the Washington Post, we get the moving story of Audrey Soape, an eleven-year-old Pflugerville resident who lost both her father and her grandfather in the months before her church’s annual father-daughter dance. The tragedy inherent in that situation, however, gave Soape and her mother the chance to receive a moment of exceptional kindness from a stranger.
Holly Soape, Audrey’s mother, liked to send the occasional supportive message on Instagram to Anthony Harris, an NFL safety who played his first six seasons with her family’s favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings. After Harris signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles, she continued to message him, offering brief notes of encouragement during the pandemic, letting the star safety know that he had fans in Pflugerville rooting for him each week. To her surprise, Harris, who was touched by the ongoing support, would respond to the messages. “This is somebody who never met me in person,” he told the Post. “This is somebody who has just been following my career and not only paying attention to what I do on the field, but also what I do off the field.”
As the father-daughter dance approached, Soape decided to make an improbable ask of Harris, her daughter’s favorite player. Explaining that Audrey’s father had recently died, she asked Harris if he would consider standing in at the father-daughter dance to bring some joy to her little girl on that day. Harris couldn’t commit immediately—the dance was in late January, and the Eagles were in the playoffs, so a deep postseason run might mean he had to work—but after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eliminated Philly in the first round, he revisited the offer—and accepted it.
According to the Post, Harris, who was raised by a single mother, saw in Soape someone he could relate to—a mom doing her best to give her daughter something special during a tough time. He booked a flight to Austin, bought Audrey a new dress and shoes, and made arrangements for her hair and makeup.
“I wanted her to feel like a princess,” he told the Post, and saw the opportunity to cover some of the costs as a way to alleviate some of the stress the family was going through. The two danced, teamed up for the event’s scavenger hunt, and spent an evening making a difficult night a little easier.
“I just wanted to try to help her cope through that experience without her father being there,” Harris told the paper. “I had people in my life, sometimes complete strangers, that were very supportive of me, so I wanted to do that for her.”