The B.I.G. Entertainment Group’s inaugural Daddy Daughter Dance

BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The dismal weather didn’t deter fathers from date night with their princesses at the Daddy Daughter Dance last Sat., Feb. 28, presented by The B.I.G. Entertainment Group at the St. Pete campus of Pinellas Technical College (PTC).

The mall area of the campus was turned into a dance floor as local recording artist Corey Thornton handled DJ duties, spinning a mix of old school tunes for the fathers and current hits for the kids. The event featured dinner and a candy bar, complete with cupcakes, pixie dust sticks and all kinds of chocolate. Thornton played dance floor games for the kids so that the fathers could rest while the diminutive divas burned off all the sugar from the candy bar.

“We just moved back and wanted to do some things for the community,” remarked Kelly Sims of B.I.G. Entertainment, adding that he and his wife Kahlya launched the nonprofit organization when they moved back to this area. “The ‘B’ is for benevolent,” Sims said, “we want to give back. The ‘I’ is for being an inspiration; we want to inspire great families. And lastly the ‘G’, we want to be gregarious, meaning we want to be the life of the party. And our mission is always going to be ‘party with a purpose.’”

Sims, a St. Pete native, received a football scholarship while at Gibbs High to play at the University of Cincinnati. Going on to play professionally, he spent time in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals, in the Canadian Football League with the B.C. Lions and even played in Europe for the Amsterdam Admirals.

After retiring from the gridiron in 1999, Sims returned to Cincinnati where he married Kahlya, who was a homicide detective. When she decided to retire and wanted to leave Ohio, Kelly returned to the bay area last January with his family.

“I’m a minister and I’m all about family, I’m all about community,” he stated.  “I wanted to do something that was relevant, something that was fun, something that was needed, and something that would create memories.”

Sims said that the inaugural Daddy Daughter Dance, which he plans to hold as an annual event, is the first in a “family series” of happenings and part of the night’s proceeds will go to charity. He said his organization would like to put on more events including a dance for mothers and sons scheduled for May, clothing drives, series for relationships and financial literacy and even basketball tournaments.

“All those things to foster great relationships and to foster people to live life big, to give, to be inspired and to have fun doing it!” he asserted.

During the evening Sims presented PTC Director Boe Norwood, who donated the venue for the event, with a plaque of appreciation.

“Once he [Sims] came and asked me about this, I said, ‘Hey, let’s do it!’” Norwood said, “Because these are the positive things that we need to do in the community. Let’s face it, there’s so much negativity, that’s all you hear, so these are the types of events that I’ll gladly, gladly support!”

Speaking at the event was the Rev. Shawn Thomas of Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, where Pastor Louis Murphy presides over his flock. Thomas addressed the fathers about not only being present but fully involved in their children’s lives.

“Absence is just not about physically being gone,” stressed Thomas.

“Many a time we can be in the same room with our daughters, can live in the same house as our daughters, drive in the same cars as our daughters, we can go to the same church as our daughters, and still be absent fathers.”

Thomas, who also teaches World Religion as an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College, asserted that daughters need caring fathers to teach them life lessons, and that fathers owe it to their daughters to meet their girl’s emotional, mental and relational needs.

“Your daughters’ first image of manhood is you,” he said to the fathers, “so we need to make sure that image is a good one. If she demands respect from a man, it’s because you taught her to demand respect from a man.”

After dinner, each father and daughter was announced before stepping onto the floor and dancing the night away. From tots to teens to grown women, daughters gushed as their fathers made them feel like they were the only people in the room.

Sims, who is also minister at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, was there with his own seven-year-old daughter Kelis, a student at Southside Christian Academy.

“I really wanted to create some memories for her while she was young that she could look back on and just hold on to for a lifetime, he said.” Looking around at the crowd on hand, he added: “We need to inspire these men to be a part of their kids’ lives.”

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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