I normally feature locals moms in this space every Monday, but today I'm making an exception for Joel Wiggins, who created the Triangle Father Daughter Dance in 2007.
Wiggins, a Raleigh father of three, had attended Raleigh's annual daddy-daughter dance at Laurel Hills Community Center with his two girls the year before. The sold out event is a popular one, but Wiggins, an entrepreneur and business owner, thought there might be the need for something bigger that included a larger cross section of the community.
Wiggins, who has a teenage son and two younger daughters, has always seen the importance of the father-daughter relationship. To him, a father's biggest job is to model for his daughters how men should treat them they are older.
"I used to date a lot of girls and I could always figure pretty quickly which girl had a good relationship with her dad," he said. "The power of a father-daughter relationship - I don't think there is anything more valuable than that."
The first dance happened quickly. The venue, the general aviation terminal at Raleigh Durham International Airport, had been booked for another Valentine's Day event that had fallen through. In about a week, the father-daughter dance was planned and advertised. That night, 300 people attended, along with 50 girls, who didn't have dads in their lives.
The dance has grown since then, moving to Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh. More than 1,000 men and their daughters attend the event, which includes food, photos and lots of dancing.
This year's event is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Feb. 4. Miss Teen North Carolina will be there to crown each of the girls. Local community organizations, including groups that work with boys, will be on hand with information. Other than a handful of volunteers, moms are not allowed.
"It has truly morphed into something I didn't have a vision of early on how much the men would enjoy this and the need," said Wiggins, whose businesses includes John David Custom Clothier and who sits on the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle.
He's especially proud of how diverse the crowd is. Dads of a variety of incomes, backgrounds and races attend with their daughters. Some come dressed in tuxedos, others can barely tie their tie.
"It is for everyone," Wiggins said.
While the dance is just one night, the one-on-one time with his daughters doesn't end there as he continues to build a strong relationship with them. Here's what Wiggins does to build bonds with his own daughters, ages 8 and 10. He recommends other dads do the same:
- Go in her room every night to talk with her about her day and tell her you love her. Wiggins also prays with each of his daughters and for their future husbands.
- Visit her school to have lunch at least once a month.
- Take her on dates. Wiggins will take each of his daughters out individually and together. Dates include a trip to the bowling alley, a movie or the ice skating rink.
- Date your wife.
"If you love and date your wife, you say to your children, this is what's right," he said. "There's nothing more important than loving your wife in front of your children."
Wiggins also recommends dads look within their own circle of friends and contacts to find girls without fathers in their own lives. He'd love to see more dads step up to include these girls in some of their outings with their own daughters, including the upcoming dance.
Tickets to the Triangle area Father-Daughter Dance are $40 for a dad-daughter pair, $55 for a dad and two girls and $70 for a dad and three girls. For more information and to buy tickets online, go to the event's website.
For more from Wiggins, check my video interview with him.
Go Ask Mom features local moms (and sometimes dads) every Monday.