"She's my girl," Casey's brother, Kevin Carroll, said as he stood near his sister, dressed in his tuxedo. Kevin is a junior offensive lineman at Auburn University, and has always had a close relationship with his little sister, even giving up his free afternoons as a Lassiter student to sit with her at lunch. "I can honestly say knowing her has made me a better person. She's waited so long for this, I'm just really happy for her."
Kevin would have taken his sister to her prom, without any hesitation. No need, though, as she had a date most Lassiter girls would have loved to have had. Philip Lutzenkirchen, a former Lassiter and current Auburn football star, told Casey he would take her to her prom last Father's Day, as the Lutzenkirchen and Carroll families celebrated the holiday together. The two families have been close ever since Kevin and Philip became friends as Lassiter football teammates.
"Casey was just upset talking about it because she said she wanted to go to prom but probably wouldn't get to because no one would invite her. So Philip told her he didn't get to go to his prom, so he'd be happy to come back from school and take her," Sue Ann said. "I pulled him to the side later and just said that was sweet but he didn't have to do that, but he was insistent and said he would be happy to."
Kevin also came back to his home town to travel with Casey to her prom with Philip's sister, Ann, as his date. But the weekend was not short of drama, as Casey had a reaction to a medication on Friday and broke out in hives, head to toe, with a 102 degree fever. She spent Friday in tears, afraid she would not be able to have her dream day on Saturday as Sue Ann took her to two different doctors, desperately searching for help.
Luckily, with a combination of new medicine, love and prayers, Casey was well enough to have her day in the limelight. But Philip was not as lucky, when he received a concussion during Auburn's Saturday morning football scrimmage. After visiting the doctor, it was apparent he would not be feeling well and would not make it in time for photos, but that did not stop him from coming.
"I told her I would take her, so I'm going to do that," Philip said, as he traveled from Auburn to Marietta on Saturday evening. "We just have a special relationship. She makes me crack up, and she has that gift where she just lights everyone up. She deserves a great prom."
And even though Philip was not able to make the photo session, Casey had another date as 25-year-old Chris Melka, the son of her life-long swim coach Barbara Melka, got his hair cut and dressed in his tuxedo on an hour's notice to be Casey's stand-in. He held her hand as she walked from one photo location to another, telling her she looked beautiful.
"Casey's one of the most popular kids in the school. The teachers, students, everyone will tell you that," Tommy Carroll, Casey's father and a football coach at Lassiter, said. "I'll take her to Publix every Sunday and they all know her and love her. Everyone loves Casey. She's hard not to love."
Tommy and Sue Ann said the entire Lassiter community has come together to support their daughter on her big day. The parents wanted to get her a limousine for her big night, but were disappointed when they found out it would cost a staggering $900.
So when Kyle Cooper of Property Masters and Corey Agee of the law firm Agee Fisher Barrett found out that Casey would not be going to the prom in a limo like many of the other prom attendees, they pitched in with other Lassiter alumni to pay for her limo, as well as flowers and a dinner gift card.
Casey will graduate in May, after which her parents said they will expect her to get a job and pay rent for her room at their home. "We've raised her just like we've raised our other three kids," Sue Ann said. "But I have to say she's the least of our worries. She's taught us to be more patient, kind and accepting. We wouldn't be the people we are now without her." As the limousine pulled away, Sue Ann wiped her eyes and smiled. "She told me all day she's a woman now. But she's still my little girl."