When The Fire Chief Passed Away, Fellow Firefighters Stepped In At His Daughter's Prom
Waving to Mom and Dad as the car pulls away for Senior Prom, or as you walk across the stage at High School Graduation, is a big part of these teenage coming of age rituals. But for Cara Pouletsos, tragedy struck just months before she finished high school, and denied her these traditions. Cara's father John, a beloved member of their Long Island community and a leader in the local fire department, passed away from a heart attack just weeks before Cara's prom and graduation.
"He was there when we picked out my dress," Cara said of her father.
When her prom date approached, Cara figured that she would just take photos with her mom and her date. But the Terryville Fire Department had other plans.
"We felt we should be there for John, to be there for her," said Chief Thomas Young. "He wasn't there to take the picture with her going to her senior prom, so we would."
Two dozen members of the department surprised Cara at the dance, and posed for an unforgettable photo with her in her prom dress. And John Pouletsos's friends weren't done yet. A couple days after the prom, Cara's class walked for graduation day—and the Terryville Fire Department showed up in even greater numbers, with fire engines and ambulances in tow to put on a show for Cara.
"They call my name, all of a sudden, the sirens go off, the lights go off, the horns, everything," Cara remembered.
Both Cara and her mother Cheryl were totally blown away by the presence of John's former colleagues.
"It's a terrible tragedy that happened to our family," Cheryl said, "but the love and support that we've received has really carried us through."
Of the presence of the fire department members, who all knew her dad well, Cara said that "I just felt like he was there with me… I didn't feel like I needed to cry, because I felt like with all of them there, that he was there with me."