Eighteen-year-old Cara Pouletsos’ father died suddenly in March, before his daughter’s senior prom and high school graduation.
But his colleagues at the Terryville Fire Department wanted Cara to know her father’s spirit was still alive. John Pouletsos died of a heart attack after serving the Long Island community’s fire department for 50 years, including as chief.
Before Cara bought her senior prom dress, John said wanted to take a picture of her in the long gown. “He was there when we picked out my dress,” the Long Island teen said. “He was going to wait in the car and he was like, ‘Oh no, I want to come out, I want to take a picture of you in the dress,’ when I wasn’t even sure what dress I was getting.”
John’s fellow firefighters wanted to support his beloved daughter in his absence.
“We felt we should be there for John, to be there for her. He wasn’t there to take the picture with her going to her senior prom, so we would,” said Terryville Fire Department Chief Thomas Young. The fire department crashed the Comsewogue High School prom to take the promised photo with Cara.
“All of a sudden, I just see all of these guys in uniform, and I was like, ‘What? What’s going on?’” she said.
“I don’t think she knew what was going on at first, and then we all settled in, and she was just overwhelmed,” said Chief Young.
The surprises weren’t over yet.
Terryville firefighters also wanted to support Cara during her high school graduation ceremony, a time when parents celebrate their children’s accomplishments. The team secretly drove several fire trucks and ambulances to the ceremony on the school football field. When Cara’s name was called, she received another shock.
“They call my name, all of a sudden, the sirens go off, the lights go off, the horns, everything,” the recent graduate said.
Cara’s mother, Cheryl Pouletsos, was also touched.
“It’s a terrible tragedy that happened to our family, but the love and support that we’ve received has really carried us through,” she said of the gestures.
John’s colleagues fulfilled their purpose as their colleague’s daughter felt a little less alone that important day.
“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,” Cara said.
Cara plans to follow in her father’s footsteps by joining the fire department in the fall and hopes to become chief one day.
Just like her dad.
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