MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Prom night is a special occasion for teenagers, which is why a Pennsylvania father couldn’t let his late son’s girlfriend go to the dance alone.
“He was such a smart aleck and so sarcastic and so sweet at the same time, and his smile was so perfect,” said Kaylee Suders, a senior at James Buchanan High School.
Suders and Carter Brown were high school sweethearts.
“He could say something and you’d be like ‘really, Carter?’ But then, you’d just smile. You couldn’t even help but to smile,” said Suders.
They were best friends who began dating at James Buchanan High School. Carter, a year older than Kaylee, was a first-year student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was studying culinary arts and had dreams of becoming a chef.
Just weeks before the prom, tragedy ripped Brown from Suders’ life.
“April 15th. It was a Sunday. Carter was coming home to see Kaylee. He had worked the Saturday, and I think he stayed up a lot, quite a bit through the night. They had talked, and he had just wanted to come and surprise her and he fell asleep at the wheel,” said Robert Brown, Carter Brown’s father.
Robert Brown still wanted Suders to go to the dance, which is why he asked to be her escort.
“She kind of got teary-eyed. She had a big smile. She said, ‘absolutely’. I told her, ‘I’m not Carter, but maybe I’m the next best thing,'” said Robert Brown.
The school approved the date, Suders bought her dress and prom night came. She wore purple flowers, Carter Brown’s favorite color.
They took photos by a memorial tree planted for Brown in the family’s backyard and in front of the teen’s sports car with Brown by their side.
“This was sitting at one of the table’s at his service, but we kind of recreated it again, where I pretended I was kissing his cheek again,” described Suders, holding a photo.
Suders and Robert Brown recreated cherished memories between the two sweethearts. As for the dance, they said it was a good time.
“It was fun. Have you ever watched a 50-year-old man dance?” said Suders.
“Crazy,” said Robert Brown.
It was a night which meant everything to Suders.
“It’s really touching to know that I’m not even actually their family, but they can do something like that, just to make my senior prom great,” she said.