LONG BEACH — When Abigayle Daniely arrived at the Daddy & Daughter Dance in the Long Beach Middle School gym Friday night, she started to cry because she was accompanied by her four brothers instead of her dad, a Seabee who's been stationed overseas for three years.
Abigayle's brothers took her onto the dance floor anyway, spinning and dipping her to the music along with all the other dads and daughters at the annual fete. Then the 6-year-old was stunned when she spun around to find her dad, Petty Officer 1st Class Alpedro Daniely standing behind her.
"I chose to surprise her because this is the only chance like this I'll get in a lifetime," Daniely said. "It was very emotional, I had tears in my eyes."
The smile on Abigayle's face quickly gave way to tears of joy as she realized who she was seeing.
"I was happy," she said. "I was surprised because I love my daddy very much."
Daniely hadn't seen his daughter in about a year and a half.
"To see how much she's grown and how much I've missed, it makes me sad," he said, adding they talk online via FaceTime or Skype as much as possible. "But she wanted me to come be a part of this father-daughter dance."
Rebekah Chamberlain, Abigayle's mom, said her daughter wasn't too keen on the idea of going to the dance after she realized her dad probably wouldn't be able to make it. She told Abigayle her two sets of twin brothers, 7-year-olds Andrew and Matthew Daniely and 10-year-olds T.J. and Xavian Chamberlain would be her dates instead.
"She cried and said, 'No I want my dad to come,'" Chamberlain said. "And he said he'd move heaven to get here."
So Daniely devised a plan to arrive Friday and surprise his daughter at the dance. He said he plans to be in town for a few days and spend as much time as he can with Abigayle.
"For the dads out there or just parents in general, take each moment with your child that you can because time is precious," he said. "You can't get moments back like this."