Bethany’s Father-Daughter Date Night
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She was held lovingly in the arms of her parents, 3½-year-old sister and grandparents for just 15 short days, but the Greens will hold Sarah Bethany Green in their hearts forever.
Bethany’s brief stay on earth created a legacy that continues to touch families nine years later.
Born Oct. 27, 2004, to Boyd and Brooke Green, Bethany came into the world with campomelic dysplasia, a rare genetic disorder that affects the development of long bones and causes other complications. With underdeveloped lungs, Bethany struggled for every breath.
Given no hope that their newborn could survive, the Greens took their daughter home under hospice care. For 15 days, family members held, rocked, swayed, swaddled, sang to and cared for the sweet little girl. For them, every moment was precious.
On Nov. 11, 2004, while wrapped in the arms of her parents, Bethany gasped her last breath. Then, her parents said, she took her place in the arms of Jesus. Boyd and Brooke Green took comfort in Matthew 19:14, which says, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me.’”
To fill the gaping hole in their hearts left by Bethany’s absence, the Greens decided to do something to provide for other families in somewhat similar situations. They capitalized on an idea of their dear friends, Joey and Lisa Fennell, to provide a “place of peace in time of need” and began plans for fundraising.
The Greens chose the idea of a Father-Daughter Dance to raise money. Because they treasured every moment with Bethany, the Greens thought a special night for fathers to spend with their princesses would be a perfect fit.
In 2006, the first Bethany’s Place Father-Daughter Dance was held with 75 dads and daughters attending. Last year, 550 dads and daughters clung to one another on the dance floor and swayed to the music. This year, two nights are planned for the festivities.
After dancing with Bethany for only 15 days, Boyd Green carefully savors any time spent with his oldest daughter as a gift. Each year, he proudly holds onto – or tries to keep up with the dance moves of – Bryn, now 12.
“One of the things my daughter and I look forward to the most each year is the Father-Daughter Dance,” he said. “It’s a great time for us to spend together that we will both always remember. She loves to find her special dress and my tie, and I treasure the opportunity to take her out and treat her like a princess. It’s always a special night for us both.”
All profits collected from 2006 to 2011 helped fund the recent addition of Bethany’s Place at Ogeechee Area Hospice. Bethany’s Place is a large conference-community room with restroom facilities and a serving kitchen. The space can accommodate activities for the more than 75 employees and 85 volunteers. Plans for the room also include educational sessions for the community, bereavement activities and other events associated with Hospice and palliative care.
With that goal met, the Greens found other ways for Bethany’s memory to touch the community. In 2012, proceeds from the dance were donated to Anna Hays Polk, who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. 2013 proceeds went to sisters Chyann and Jade Hoyle, who have cystic fibrosis. This year, Tucker Lanier, who has MPS II/Hunter’s syndrome will benefit from the dance.
Daddies and daughters can dance the night away, well, at least until bedtime for some of the younger ones, this year on Feb. 7 and 8. Tickets must be purchased prior to the event for planning purposes. They will be available beginning Jan. 13 at Doodle Bugs and Bellies, Babies, and Ballerinas.
Little princesses and teenage ones, along with their Prince Charmings, look forward to this special event each year.
When the last song, “Butterfly Kisses,” plays, signifying the end of the magical evening, daddies hold their daughters tenderly. And, sometimes, both wipe away the tears.