CHICAGO, Illinois -- First Sergeant Joseph Bierbrodt had never met 5-year-old Cayleigh Hinton until Wednesday night, but he said stepping in for her late father was something that "had to be done." So the pair danced and twirled on what Cayleigh called "a very special day."
Cayleigh's father, Sergeant Terrence Hinton, died in May 2017 in a military training accident in Hawaii.
Bierbrodt saw a request from Cayleigh's mother asking if someone from the National Guard could take her to her school's daddy-daughter dance.
"It wasn't even really a choice for me. I view it as an honor to be able to do this for her," Bierbrodt said.
So a limo was arranged. Police, firefighters and the Patriot Guard escorted the pair to Our Lady of Humility School in north suburban Beach Park.
Bierbrodt said he's not much of a dancer, but Cayleigh had practiced.
"I'm very good at it," she said.
Bierbrodt has taken his own daughters to such dances, and it's something Cayleigh's father had talked about doing one day.
"He's definitely here in spirit. I heard Cayleigh talking to him while she was getting ready, and I have no doubt she has him with her tonight," said Jillian Hinton, Cayleigh's mother.
Bierbrodt didn't know Cayleigh's father, but said he would want someone to do the same as he did for his daughters.
Soldier steps in for girl's late father at daddy-daughter dance