Sheridan's Joseph Bierbrodt wanted to do his best to make Wednesday a special night for Cayleigh Hinton.
The Illinois Army National Guard soldier escorted the Winthrop Harbor kindergartener to her first father-daughter dance at Our Lady of Humility School. Her father, U.S. Army Sgt. Terrence Hinton who served with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based in Oahu, Hawaii, died in a military training accident last year.
Bierbrodt formally asked Cayleigh to the dance upon his arrival at the family's home, presented her a six-foot stuffed dog in an Army jacket and then escorted her to the dance in a limousine. The two were escorted to Our Lady of Humility School in Beach Park by a veterans' motorcycle club and members of area police and fire departments.
"When I received the request to do this, it touched me," Bierbrodt said. "This is something I felt needed to be done. Military is family to me and as a family we need to be there for each other."
1st Sgt. Bierbrodt has four children and said they were why he was touched when he heard about Cayleigh. He said he has taken his daughters to their father-daughter dances and knew this would be a special event for Cayleigh.
"Cayleigh looks absolutely beautiful tonight and she is priceless," Bierbrodt said.
Cayleigh is described by her mother, Jillian Hinton, as "Daddy's little girl."
Jillian said her father would have been so thrilled to see Cayleigh in her dress.
"He (Terrence) loved doing school activities with Cayleigh. He would have loved to take her to a father-daughter dance," Jillian said. "We wish he could be here today, but we know that he is looking down on us and loves us."
Cayleigh said she misses her father and practiced dancing to get ready for Wednesday with Bierbrodt.
Cayleigh said the day was special to her, because everyone was celebrating her father.
"When you're five years old everything happens in moments," Jillian Hinton said. "I have seen her get excited over and over again tonight and that's what make me so happy. I'm so thankful for all of this."
Cayleigh's father Sgt. Terrence Hinton was killed when a military truck he was riding in spun out of control, hit a guardrail and overturned into a culvert. Hinton enlisted in 2009 and served at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, before moving to Hawaii in 2016. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and Kuwait in 2014 for a total of 21 months.