For many senior citizens, the day of love can be a bittersweet reminder of loved ones lost. To brighten up their senior residents’ Valentine’s Day, staff at John-Wesley Villas in Macon, Georgia, invited special guests to their first Sweetheart Ball: local firefighters.
“We wanted to make our residents feel loved,” said John-Wesley executive director Mary Hudson, who first proposed the idea of a ball. There was just one problem: The overwhelming majority of residents are women, who wondered, “Who is going to dance with us?”
Just six days before the event, marketing director Lauren Rutherford put the question to her Facebook community, inviting local firemen, police officers, and other men in uniform to join the dance.
To her surprise, the post got 156 shares and a flood of comments offering help.
When the news reached Chief Marvin Riggins at the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department, he gladly dispatched 20 of his best men.
On the big day, the residence hall had a prom-like atmosphere. “We were worried that it would be like a middle school dance with boys on one side, girls on the other side,” said Hudson. But once the music hit, the firemen swept the ladies off their feet, showcasing their cha-cha and foxtrot skills.
The dance took the seniors back in time.
“I haven’t danced with a man in a uniform in a long time, since I danced with my husband in uniform, so it’s been great,” one resident, Ruth Godfree, told WMAZ.
“They were the perfect gentlemen,” Hudson said. “It was magical.”
John-Wesley Villas plans to continue the magic by making the Sweetheart Ball an annual Valentine’s Day event.