Dreams do come true
by Katy Ruth Camp
krcamp@mdjonline.com
March 28, 2010 01:00 AM | 48224 views | 20 20 comments | 148 148 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lassiter High School senior Casey Carroll smiles as she takes pictures with her longtime family friend, Chris Melka, before heading to dinner and to prom at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on Saturday evening.<br>Photo by Laura Moon
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EAST COBB - "I feel like a princess," Casey Carroll, 19, said as she walked to the limousine that was to take her to dinner and her prom at the Fox Theatre. Her mother clicked her camera every five seconds, looking for the perfect shot after an hour of staged photos. Casey, dressed in a floral gown she bought days after being asked to the prom last summer in the midst of her uncontrollable excitement, smiled as she turned to her mother and said what most teenage girls have said to their mothers at least once: "Mom, stop. You're embarrassing me." But Casey was not like most girls at the Lassiter High School prom. She was not the prom queen, she was not looking forward to any big after-party, and she was ready to step out of her high heels before she even got into her limo. "When Casey was little, me and her father just thought she would probably never get to go to the prom, because we just weren't sure anyone would ask her," said Sue Ann Carroll, Casey's mother. "Not only is she getting to go, but she has two great dates. To see that, and to see her so happy, I can't tell you how much that means to us." That's because Casey, full of laughter, jokes and smiles, was born with Down Syndrome. And as much love as Casey gives, she receives even more.

"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."
Comments
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Melissa Lewis
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April 18, 2011
Just when you think the world is going bad..something good happens.. Thanks for the story it brought tears to my eyes..I hope they had a wonderful night.. Neither one will ever forget it..I am a die hard Bama Fan but these Tigers have impressed me...
Greg in Roswell
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April 13, 2010
Just another reason to say " It's Great to be an Auburn Tiger!" I trust my 2 girls hold out for some good Auburn men like these.

War Eagle!
Joyce Mauldin
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April 08, 2010
What a wonderful story of a lovely young woman! Casey looked beautiful and her smile lights up the heart.The character, kindness, and caring of the young men who escorted Casey is an inspiration and example for everyone! Auburn is very fortunate to have those two men on their team. This Bama fan is also an Auburn fan--except when they play each other. Now I'll look forward to watching Philip Lutzenkirchen and Kevin Carroll on Fall Saturdays!

tml
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April 04, 2010
This story was so beautiful. I have a niece with downs syndrome and she is one of the most precious people you can ever meet. This gives me so much hope. Its nice to know there are still wonderful, caring people in this world.
Bertie Waldrep
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April 03, 2010
This was such a wonderful story. I lived on Bells Ferry Road for many years and I feel the warmth of this precious family as they love and cherish their children. Auburn is my heart too. I have two grandsons that will be going there. I live in Brewton, Al. now. I miss Marietta too.
Bama Fan
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April 03, 2010
From a bleed crimson Tide fan, I have to say "War Eagle" to this story. What a great testimony to the character of these young men and of Casey and her family.
David / Buford
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April 01, 2010
WOW...awesome story and very inspiring. Makes me SO proud to be an Auburn Tiger! Does not surprise me...Auburn is made of these kind of people and only those who have experienced it REALLY know and understand. Auburn Family is special!
LaFoy
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April 01, 2010
I have a grandson who was brain damaged from an accident and I so appreciate all those willing to look beyond his limitations to his wonderful spirit of unconditional love and perserverance ..this real life story is a beautiful reminder that there so so many great human beings in America..thanks to all that helped this young woman have a wonderful experience..
Rudy Tidwell
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March 31, 2010
This account of Casey Carroll and Philip Lutzenkirchner is one that speaks well of the kindness of a football from Auburn U. and a lovely girl with downs syndrome. It hels to restore and faith in human kindness which may have abeen lost before, and show the sweet and loving personality of a downs syndrome gril who fondest dream was fulfilled by a caring athlete from Auburn.As ine has already said, this is an indication of what makes is great to be able to yell "Waaarrrr EAGLE! HEY!
AUKerry
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March 31, 2010
WOW!!! What a wonderful story!!! This IS what makes me proud to be an Auburn Tiger!!! In life, it's moments like these that are far more important than how many national championships you've won.

God bless the Carroll's and Lutzenkirchen's!!!Warrrr Eagle!!!!
David Theobald
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March 30, 2010
What a wonderful life story of family, friends and community reaching out to make an amazing day for a beautiful young girl. Overcoming all the adversities that tried to jump in the way and being determined to make these memories for their lifetimes. By sharing this story with everyone you have given us a fantastic example of how to truly live life.
aufan
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March 30, 2010
War Eagle and most importantly Go Casey! What an utterly inspirational and humbling story.
Rick Morrell
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March 29, 2010
Oh man, if you don't weep when you read this story, you don't have a heart. What a wonderful "woman" this little girl is. I am a Bama fan who has just become an admirer of 2 AU football players who see life as an opportunity. Great story!
cprmartin
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March 29, 2010
What a beautiful story and a tribute to everyone involved! When people come together for good look what happens!
Lynda B.
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March 28, 2010
Truly, I just became an Auburn fan! What a beautiful story.
gasmy
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March 28, 2010
Awesome,awesome story!! Made me cry. ha
marietta mom
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March 28, 2010
Your daughter looked absolutely beautiful and I hope she had the time of her life! Thank you MDJ for a sweet story.
Lisa Sager
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March 28, 2010
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story! I've known the Carroll family since my daughter, Krista, and Casey were in pre-school together. She was always cute as a button and now has grown into a beautiful young lady. Casey was an extra special friend to Krista because she has an older sister named Kacy.

The time leading up to the big night sounded very exciting (and stressful) with the hives and concussion. Never a dull moment with kids. What a wonderful big brother and his caring friends to come back from Auburn to be a part of Casey's prom. It's also nice the school and community helped with the limo and preparation for Prom 2010.

Casey, your dress is gorgeous and your corsage, too. My favorite part of all is your smile! Thank you for sharing your big event with the MDJ readers...Lisa Sager
ForTheWin
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March 28, 2010
What an awesome story of love and selflessness. I hope Casey had the time of her life!
Mary111
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March 28, 2010
Casey Carroll, YOU are an inspiration! Stand tall, and keep that beautiful, radiant smile on your face! YOU help make a sometimes crazy, mis-directed old world a better place!
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