A Dothan-native photographer’s viral video featuring bride Mary Bourne Butts dancing with her terminally-ill father at Point Clear’s Grand Hotel made its way to the Ellen show Monday afternoon.
In the emotional video, Mary Bourne is seen giving a moving performance dancing with her wheelchair-bound father, Jim Roberts, at the reception of her wedding.
Mary Bourne and James Butts, from North Carolina, appeared on the show, and were presented with a $25,000 check from Cheerios as part of the company’s partnership with Ellen on the One Million Acts of Good initiative.
Jim was diagnosed with glioblastoma (GBM), a fast-growing and incurable form of brain cancer, in May of 2017. With treatment, the prognosis for an adult going through treatment is 11-15 months, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. In mid-December, Jim started hospice care.
The dance was loosely planned. Mary Bourne told Ellen she had always loved dancing with her father to their song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. They’d discussed doing so on her wedding day. The family wasn’t sure if he would make it to their Dec. 29 wedding date.
Jim made it to the ceremony, escorting his daughter down the aisle. After the wedding, he had to rest in his hotel room for a short while, before feeling well enough to come to the ballroom for their father-daughter dance.
The photographer, Cindy O’Brien McCrory, saw Jim being pushed onto the floor, and began shooting.
“I knew this would be sweet and probably terribly sad, but I had no idea how amazing Mary Bourne's on-the-spot choreography was going to be,” said McCrory, a Dothan High School graduate.
McCrory, who holds a B.A. in broadcasting and journalism from the University of Alabama, uploaded the video to her Daphne photography studio’s Facebook page, Blue Room Photography for the newlyweds. It was almost immediately picked up by news outlets.
Soon, she was fielding media requests from around the world.
“I am still stunned,” she said. “I know that social media is powerful, but I have experienced it and it is HUGE. It was out of control!”
For Mary Bourne, who graduated with a dance degree from UA, and her family, the video captured the precious relationship between a father and his dancing daughter in perpetuity.
Jim succumbed to the cancer a week before the Ellen Show taping. Donations to research the disease can be sent to abta.org.