GREENSBORO, NC – Holy smokes. Pun intended. A city of Greensboro firefighter called on his firefighter buddies and his girlfriend’s students at Northwest Guilford for an epic proposal.
Eric Estep, a senior firefighter for Greensboro, knew the moment he saw Jessica Smith’s profile picture on Facebook, she was someone special.
“If I could have fallen in love just based off a picture, I would have,” said Estep. “Her picture was strikingly beautiful and I saw she was coaching at A&T and I used to coach there as well.”
Estep, originally from New Mexico and Smith, originally from New Hampshire, both landed in Greensboro -- Estep in 2005, Smith a few years later. The two started dating when Smith became a math teacher of NW Guilford.
Fast forward two and a half years and a few conversations about their future later, and Estep began planning his proposal.
“Either go big or go home. We are both really shy but we’re not distant from the spotlight. We’re both college athletes and we are used to being in front of big crowds,” Estep explained. “This will mean a lot doing this in front of people we love.”
Estep made a plan and asked Smith’s students to help him with the proposal.
“He called me Monday night and asked if we wanted to help and then we came to the school last night to make the posters,” said student Madison Surratt.
Taking it a step further, Estep called on colleagues at the Oak Ridge Fire Department, located directly across the street from the high school.
NW Guilford’s principal, Ralph Kitley, told Estep about their monthly fire drill; which would turn out to be the perfect time for the surprise proposal.
Estep arrived at the fire station in his dress blues with the engagement ring securely placed inside a handmade box, their names and the word ‘More’ inscribed on the top.
“We say I love you all the time,” he said. “But we say more all the time, too.”
At 2:00PM on the dot, a fire alarm sounded inside the school and over 500 students piled out into the parking lot. Smith and her class were the last to arrive and administration made sure Smith was front and center.
A fire truck came buzzing around the corner into the student’s view, and it was at that moment Smith started to get suspicious.
“I thought something was up with the cameras,” said Smith, describing the news reporters standing on the side. “But when I saw the fire truck, I knew it was him.”
As the crowd of students parted around Smith, seven of Smith’s students came forward, holding signs with the words, ‘Ms. Smith, Will You Marry Me?’ in bold print.
At that moment, Estep exited the fire truck; a smile plastered to his face. He walked over to the love of his life, took her hand, spun her around and whispered his devotion to her.
Then…the big moment. Estep dropped to one knee as students cheered loudly.
Smith never hesitated.
“Yes,” she said.
Estep kissed his new fiancée as students, family and friends cried with excitement.
“I’m excited to call him my fiancé,” said Smith. “And it’s exciting knowing that we’re taking that next step and we really will be together forever.”
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