Overland Park firefighter Jason Kelley had been planning his proposal to girlfriend Stephany Pace for months.
He didn’t plan, however, to be in a national contest.
Friends and family were so touched by a video of their proposal that they suggested the couple enter the “Pop the Question” contest for the “Today Show.”
Out of more than 800 entries, Kelley and his fiancee are one of three in the running. The winner gets an all-expense-paid honeymoon to the British Virgin Islands.
“I don’t know that I deserve a vacation, but I know that Stephany does,” Kelley said.
Pace, a teacher in Webb City, was eager to start a life with Kelley. The couple have been dating for about two years after meeting through mutual friends in Joplin.
“She’s been looking forward to a proposal for a while. I told her when the time is right, it will be perfect, and I think I was able to carry through with that promise,” Kelley said.
He knew he wanted to involve her students because they were such a big part of her life. So when he found out last fall that the next school assembly was around Valentine’s Day, he began planning.
“I knew that I wanted to do something with her students, because she is very very dedicated to her students,” Kelley said. “She puts in hours and hours beyond what she does at the school. When one of her students has a bad day, she has a bad day. So I know that she really truly cares about them.”
Kelley enlisted help from one of Pace’s fellow teachers, got approval from the principal and made sure students and a TV station were there to capture the moment.
At the assembly, Pace led class cheers before she was presented with an important question.
Each student held up a sign as the crowd read along.
“Will you marry me?” they shouted.
Pace was so surprised to see Kelley, she turned away in shock.
“There was a moment there that I was like ‘Hey, don’t leave me hanging here.’ It was obvious that she was very surprised,” Kelley said.
“I couldn’t have planned anything more perfect than this,” Pace told Joplin news station KODE after the proposal. “This is my family away from my family at home, so this is perfect.”
The couple plan on getting married in July. You can vote for their proposal videohere