O’FALLON, Ill. — Police officers are known for showing up when you need them most, and some Metro East police officers showed up in a very special way for a senior on her prom night.

For O’Fallon Township High School senior Ashley Walker, it was quite a surprise to hear sirens outside her house on her prom night. Once she walked outside, she was greeted with a line of more than a dozen O’Fallon police officers — all showing up to send off Ashley Walker to her senior prom.

“They all just started filling out and giving me flowers, and it just really made me happy, like really happy. And I couldn’t be happier they did it. I know my father is looking down on me saying, ‘Wow, this is amazing that these guys and gals stepped in when I couldn’t be here,'” Walker said.

Ashley’s dad, Officer Carl Walker, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in January 2021. He worked for the O’Fallon Police Department for more than 17 years. For Ashley and her mom Stacey Hawkins, the department is their family too.

“That was kind of the thought that he wouldn’t be there for my one and only prom,” Ashley said. “I was a little disappointed and sad he couldn’t be there, but when I saw them, that all went away,” Ashley said.

“These men, they knew Ashley and have watched her grow up. They know our family,” Hawkins added. “And it is so heartwarming to see them approach her, tell her she’s beautiful, (and) have fun.”

Detective Chloee Frank helped organize the moment and said it was worth it to see Ashley’s smile.

“Everyone was very excited,” Frank said. “They put their uniforms on, and about half the guys weren’t even working that day. So they came in on their time off.”

“She’s got a strength that I and all the guys at the police department admire,” Frank continued. “So it was really important for us to show up and remind them that Carl is not here, but we still are, and we will do everything we can for them.”

Even though Officer Walker wasn’t there physically, Ashley and her mom said they felt him in their hearts and through these officers.

“I can just see so much of my dad in all of them,” Ashley said. “There are no words to describe how much I appreciated it, and I am just so thankful and grateful they could all come out.”

Ashley said he had an amazing prom. She said she will treasure the videos and pictures long after she graduates.