By Sgt. Mandaline Hatch, 6th Marine Corps District
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. --
A father-daughter dance can be a nightmare for a girl without a father. Nevertheless, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Brian D. Raney stepping in as a father figure made it a dream come true for Raven Campbell at the St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Jan. 20, 2018.
Elaine Harding, the Girl Scouts Service Unit Manager, told the Girl Scouts about the father-daughter dance, but to Raven’s dismay, she did not have a father to go with. Elaine explained that it didn’t have to be a father.
“I asked her, ‘If you could go with anybody that you wanted to, who would you like to go with?’ And she said, ‘a Marine!’” said Elaine.
Raven has had her share of trials the past couple of years. A year ago, her oldest brother was killed in an automobile accident and her grandmother passed away shortly after. This year, her mother was diagnosed with cancer and is currently going through treatment. Despite everything Raven has been through, she is determined to become a U.S. Marine.
“She wants so badly to be a Marine,” said Elaine.
Once on a Girl Scout hiking trip, Raven filled her backpack with heavy books to help demonstarte her resolve. I’ve got to make my back strong so I can carry the gear that a Marine carries replied Raven when Elaine asked about the books.
Elaine reached out to the community to see if she could find a Marine to take Raven to the dance, and Raney, the station commander for Recruiting Substation Murfreesboro, stepped in right away.
“Jason Gulley [with United Real Estate Middle Tennessee] got in touch with me and gave me the rundown of what they were trying to do for Raven,” said Raney, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. “I thought it was really great and I was really excited and looking forward to [the dance].”
Raney, a recruiter stationed with Recruiting Station Nashville, 6th Marine Corps District, wasn’t the only one eager to help. The entire Murfreesboro community came together to make Raven's dreams come true.
“That’s what I do as a recruiter,” said Raney, “I try to help people. If we can positively impact one person, then we're changing the world.”
Raven only knew she was getting her hair and makeup done, all taken care of by a local salon. Her mother told her there would be other surprises along the way.
“I saw the limo and then I saw him get out of the car and I was like ‘No way!’” said Raven.
They then rode in a limo, provided by a local philanthropist, to a dinner donated by a resturant in the local area.
Upon arriving to the dance, the pair had their photos taken by a local photography studio.
Many people offered to help Raven, so many that they began to turn some of them away. But, after a night filled with dancing and many Girl Scout cookies, Raven said her favorite part was meeting Raney.
“I’m very appreciative to anybody that had anything to do with this,” said Elaine, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. “You have made a little girl very happy.”