When a Burleson woman learned that her date to a Night to Shine had cancelled at the last minute, her mother turned to the Burleson Fire Department for help.

“I got a call last Friday from a young lady’s mom who told me that she had a crazy request,” Burleson Fire Chief K.T. Freeman said. “She explained that her daughter was going to a Night to Shine and that her date could no longer take her. She was very emotional and told us that her daughter was distraught. She said she didn’t know where else to turn.”

Chief Freeman assured the worried mother that her daughter would have a date for the dance and called firefighter Kade Watson into his office to explain the situation. 

“I told Kade what was going on and he said ‘I’ll do it,’” Freeman said. “He never hesitated.”

Watson has been a firefighter/EMT with the Burleson Fire Department for four years and was recently promoted to engineer.

On Feb. 8, that young woman - Amanda - was brought to the fire station and whisked to the dance in a shiny red fire truck. 

A Night to Shine was started five years ago by the Tim Tebow Foundation. It’s a prom night experience for those 14 and older with special needs. According to the foundation’s website, 655 churches from around the world hosted a Night to Shine for approximately 100,000 guests.

Friday’s event was held at Alsbury Baptist Church in Burleson, where attendees were treated to a red carpet experience that included hair and makeup beauty stations, shoe shines, food, fun and dancing. 

Watson, 29, lives in Stephenville and graduated from SHS in 2007. He has also been a volunteer with the Erath County Volunteer Fire Rescue department for more than a decade. 

“He is a stellar guy,” said ECVFR coordinator Chris Brooks. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that he did this.”  

Watson said when he learned about the situation, he “jumped at the chance” to help. 

“I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Watson said. “I saw how passionate Chief Freeman was about (a Night to Shine) and I wanted to help. I didn’t know what a big deal it was until we got there.”

Freeman said he is proud to have people like Watson working for his department.

“This is about us being there for people,” Freeman said. “(Kade) embodies what we need and want in the fire service and puts other people’s needs above his own. You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy.”