2021 had been a difficult year for Audrey Soape. After her father’s sudden death in March, followed five weeks later by her grandfather, the 11-year-old struggled to cope with the pain of loss.
Her mom, Holly Soape, knew the Texas high school student could use something to lift her spirits, so she came up with an idea.
Before her church father-daughter dance in January, Holly reached out to Philadelphia Eagles safety Anthony Harris on social media and asked if he could be Audrey’s date to the event.
She knew it was a great question. But to her surprise, the athlete answered and said that she would come.
True to his promise, Harris, 30, showed up to the dance dressed up in a black suit and matching shoes. Holly specifically asked him why he was Audrey’s favorite soccer player.
The family had been a fan of Harris for a long time, dating back to his days with the Minnesota Vikings. They often contacted him through social media to offer his prayers.
“[He was] trying to be human,” Harris told NBC 10 of his kind act. “Trying to take off my helmet, trying to take off the cape of what I do professionally and just showing some sympathy for that family and trying to show some support there.”
At first, the NFL star wasn’t sure if her schedule would allow her to attend. But after the Eagles were beaten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first week of the playoffs, he had enough free time to take Audrey to the dance.
“I told him about the situation and surprisingly he was more than willing to do it,” Holly said. “It happened very fast. He said yes, probably a week before, so he was like a whirlwind.”
Harris, who joined the Eagles last year, did more than just fly around and show up. He also paid for Audrey’s dress, hair, shoes and makeup!
“He had a car with a driver, he came to the house and picked her up,” Holly said. “He really wanted to make sure she had the best time possible.”
Needless to say, Audrey felt like a princess all night, which is exactly what Harris was going for.
Knowing how busy an athlete can be, Audrey is very grateful to Harris for clearing her schedule to be with her.
“A normal player would probably say, ‘I don’t have time for this. I have to be focused for next season or the playoffs,” Audrey said. “But he took time out of his schedule to take me, so that was pretty special.”
It’s natural to feel shy around your idols, and Audrey was no exception.
“I was very nervous because I didn’t know what she was going to say,” she recalled. “At first it was a little awkward because we weren’t talking yet… But then she came over and started talking to me.”
Harris broke the ice by asking Audrey about her day and talking about soccer.
Holly is happy to be able to give her daughter this once-in-a-lifetime experience of her own.
“I was so anxious and excited for her because she just had the most terrible year,” she said. “For someone to show up and teach you that people show up for you, it’s been more than a blessing.”
Harris is also grateful that he had the opportunity to make Audrey’s night very special.
“You have to cherish these moments. You never know how long we have here on this Earth,” he told CBS Philly. “So the people you care about and love, show them your support.”
In addition to dancing with Audrey, Harris also made time to meet his brother, Jackson.
“He made me feel very happy and special because he didn’t just come to go to the ‘Daddy Daughter Dance’ with Audrey, he also came to see me,” he said.
And as for his dance moves? Turns out he had approved for Audrey.
“They were very good,” he said between laughs.