Mom and girl turned away from daddy-daughter dance

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo mom is upset because she was turned away from a father-daughter dance after she was initially told she could attend.

The dance was held at the Bernhard Center on Western Michigan University’s campus over the weekend. The organization sponsoring the event says it never agreed to allowing moms.

Caitlin Sumey says her daughter Isabella’s father left them six months after Isabella was born. So when Isabella got a flyer for the daddy-daughter Valentine’s Day dance, she asked her mom to go with her.

“She was just excited she asked if I could take her. We did see that it was a father-daughter dance and my stepdad offered to take her and my boyfriend offered to take her and she said no, she wanted her mom to take her because it’s just been us two. She knows I’ve played both roles, so she said, ‘If you can’t go, I don’t want to go.’ So I said, ‘OK. I’ll call and I’ll see,’” Sumey said.

She said she called both the Bernhard Center and Miller Auditorium, where the tickets were sold; both said it was OK. So she bought two $25 tickets.

“I had one guy actually say how awesome it was for taking my daughter to a father-daughter Valentine’s dance,” said Sumey.

When the day of the dance came, Sumey and Isabella got dressed up.

“I did her hair and I did my hair,” Sumey said.

But when they got to the venue, they were turned away at the door.

“They said, ‘Your mother is not a man. She cannot take you,’” recalled Sumey.

Sumey said her daughter was devastated and broke down crying.

“As a mother, that broke my heart,” she said.

The problem is that the venues Sumey contacted didn’t organize the event. It was sponsored by Kalamazoo Junior Girls Organization.

The executive director of that organization told 24 Hour News 8 that moms are not allowed at the dance. The organization said the event is meant to celebrate the importance of a positive male role model in a girl’s life. The director said another male family members are allowed, but no women.

But last year, Molly VanKeuren was let in after initially being turned away when she showed up with her daughter. She had to tell the woman at the door that her husband had died of cancer.

VanKeuren says she feels for Sumey’s daughter.

“They damaged the little girl’s feelings,” VanKeuren said. “My daughter remembers it nicely and says it was the best night of her life, but this girl doesn’t have that and I don’t like that.”

Kalamazoo Junior Girls Organization says they will reimburse Sumey her money. The executive director says the organization stands behind the decision to turn her away.

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