Last month, Kaylee Suders was a normal teenager from Mercersberg, Pennsylvania, looking forward to attending prom with her boyfriend, Carter Brown. But when a tragic car accident took Carter's life, his grieving father father stepped in to make sure Kaylee wouldn't miss her high school milestone.
Carter, 19, was on his way home from Indiana State University to surprise Kaylee last month when he crossed into the opposite lane of traffic, struck one car and then collided head-on with another, the Centre Daily Times reports. Carter was pronounced dead at the scene.
After her boyfriend's untimely death, Kaylee was devastated and didn't want to go to prom. Then her boyfriend's dad, Robert Brown, asked if he could accompany her.
"I didn't have to think about it," Kaylee told the Centre Daily Times. "I definitely said 'yes.'"
It was only a week after his son's death that Robert had the idea to take Kaylee to her prom. "It meant a lot that he kind of stepped up and took the role, because it was my senior prom and I didn't want to go any more," Kaylee said.
On Sunday, Kaylee put on her light pink princess gown and waited for her late boyfriend's dad to come pick her up.
Like any real prom date, he dressed up and put a corsage on Kaylee's wrist, and the pair took photos together, some of them silly, before heading to the prom. They also took photos with a big picture of Carter, to honor him on the date he should have been celebrating.
Before prom began, the two went out to dinner to the same restaurant Kaylee and Carter had their first date.
Carter's mom, Kelly, said her husband is "incredible" for taking Kaylee to prom. "He's truly amazing, he is a gift," Kelly said. "Carter was in college. He wasn't super excited about going to a high school prom, but he was excited about doing that for Kaylee. ... Rob didn't like the idea of Kaylee not getting that."
When the two arrived at prom, "everyone just thought it was amazing," Kaylee said.
"It was overwhelming," Robert said. "Just the experience of seeing her, in the days prior, getting ready -- she seemed to be excited."
The Browns have endured a lot of loss in the past year. Seven months before Carter's death, their oldest son, Christopher Brown, died in September at age 23.
It was emotional, but Robert escorting Kaylee to prom gave them something to look forward to.
"We lost Chris in September. Seven months apart, it's an awful lot," Kelly Brown said. "This gave us something to be excited about. So that was also kind of a gift to have something fun to look forward to. It was big deal for all of us."
"I think it's really sweet and wonderful and says a lot about Kaylee's relationship too, that she wanted to go with him," she added. "It speaks to how much she is a part of our family and how much we love her."
Prom was a family affair that gave both Kaylee and the Browns something to take their mind off of their tragic loss.