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PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) — The highlight shone on a number of South Florida teenagers for a heartfelt father-daughter dance in their honor, courtesy of a local band and law enforcement companies.

The theme for Saturday’s MIA Fathers Gala in Pembroke Pines was “As We Honor Him.”

This year’s occasion gave high school girls the opportunity to witness a dance, despite the fact that their real fathers are not in their lives.

“It gives me the opportunity to have a father figure in my life that I never had,” said contestant Leann Anderson.

“It brings joy into my life that I would have someone, a counter-dad, to be here with me, to have this good night tonight,” said another teenager.

First responders stepped in to fill the hole, because of the MIA Fathers.

“These officers will take the place of the fathers of these young women for one night so these young women can do a simulated father-daughter dance,” said Gernald Hawkins, founding father of the MIA Fathers.

But the music and merriment of downtown Charles F. Dodge almost didn’t happen.

In March, 7’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser told the story of a web designer who paid $700 but didn’t create a website that could help the band raise money for the dance, as well as scholarships for young people.

MIA fathers give deeds and advice to young women and men.

Graphic designer Jiscard Pierre-Louis, who works at Channel 7, stepped in to create the site for free and helped get the occasion back on track.

Help for his mission is music to Hawkins’ ears. He said he wants the means of MIA fathers to change from “missing in action” to “motivated, involved and active”.

“We want to bridge the gap between fathers and these young children,” he said. “We want to make sure that we create an atmosphere where these young women and young gentlemen can thrive.”

“If you feel loved, it’s amazing to be here tonight,” said attendee Xspinziv Emmanuel. “I really appreciate everything they’ve done for us.”

The total amount raised for scholarships throughout the gala was $33,000. The one-time fund of $19,000 was augmented with a $14,000 donation from viewers.

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