Prom night can be one of the best nights in a young person’s life. But for one teen, it was looking to be a night of heartbreak—a reminder of her boyfriend who tragically would not be there with her.
Until an unexpected proposal turned everything around—and gave two people a light in the darkness.
Kaylee Suders, a senior at Pennsylvania’s James Buchanan High School, was all set to go to prom with 19-year-old Carter Brown, her boyfriend of more than a year and a student at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
The young couple dreamed of a future far beyond the senior prom. Suders planned to join him at the college after graduation and the two planned to travel together.
Sadly, those dreams would never come true. On April 15, Carter drove down from campus to surprise Suders.
On the way, tragedy struck: Carter was killed in a three-vehicle crash.
The heartbreaking loss of her best friend devastated Suders, who says Carter was an “all-around great person.”
“He always could light up an entire room,” she told the Centre Daily Times. “He could also talk you into doing anything. He was one of the best people that’s ever been around. You couldn’t find anyone that would ever say a bad thing about him.”
Adding to the heartbreak, his death occurred just a month before prom. Without her date, Suders wasn’t interested in going.
“Prom tickets were already due and I didn’t want to go anymore,” she told Inside Edition.
But soon, she changed her mind—after getting a proposal from the most unexpected person:
Her late boyfriend’s father offered to be her date!
Robert Brown, Carter’s father, was still reeling from the loss of his son. But he know that Suders was feeling the same pain.
“My son was a sweet, caring kid, and Kaylee is very sweet, too, and she is a part of our family,” he told the Centre Daily Times. “When the passing topic of prom came up, I kept thinking my son would want her to go. That prompted me to get the ball rolling.”
After getting permission from the school, Robert asked Suders—who accepted with tears in her eyes.
“He was like, ‘What if I took you?’ and then he explained what he had already done and there was no way I couldn’t say yes,” she told Inside Edition. “It was just too sweet.”
The unlikely duo made it a night that honored Carter’s memory. They started at TGI Friday’s, where the young couple had had their first date. They drove Carter’s Audi to and from the prom.
They posed for prom photos like any other couple, but included photos of Carter.
And while Robert was probably the oldest attendee at the prom, he proved to be a fun date.
“The dance was fun,” Suders said. “Seeing a 50-year-old dance like that was pretty funny.”
“It was fun and we both really had a good time,” Robert said.
It’s a heartbreaking story, but it’s inspiring to know that in spite of everything, these two found the strength to turn their heartbreak into a special memory.
“Life will have all kinds of curve balls that you can’t control,” Robert told Centre Daily Times. “You have to have strength and courage to move forward.”
“You just learn to be able to go on and live for and care for everyone you still have with you.”