It was supposed to be a routine response to a nuisance 911 call for officer Charles Kondek. Tragedy struck when the 17-year veteran of the Tarpon Springs Police Department, was shot and killed in the line of duty. Kondek left behind his wife and six children. At his funeral, over three thousand men and women in uniform paid tribute to the man who was seen as an outstanding father and a protector of the community. During the service his youngest daughter Aleena said her “dad died as a hero, but he was my hero before any of yours.” It became a bittersweet moment when his daughter was getting ready for prom but knew her dad could not be physically be with her to celebrate. Aleena was taken by surprise when she was getting dropped off for the big night and saw a sea of blue.He was described a family man who coached his daughter’s soccer team and loved listening to AC/DC at full blast. Officer Kondek usually worked the midnight shifts so he could be home to make breakfast for his family before they went to school or work.
The Tarpon Springs Police Department wanted the fallen officer’s family to know they would always be there for them. They know they cannot replace Kondek but rather pay respects for everything he did for his fellow officers and the community.
Her mom Teresa secretly organized for the officers to be present the moment Aleena was dropped off at prom.
The officers also help around with things her father would do around the house.
For the teen, the men and women in blue walk the walk. “They always say, ‘never forgotten,’ and I totally believe that,” says Aleena about their genuine care for her and her family.
She is thankful they were there to see her off for her special night.
“[We’re] sad because we have to be here. Honored, because we can be here,” explains Young.
“It’s our responsibility and our honour to stand in for Charlie,” says Young. “Charlie would be here, and he’s not able to be here, so we want to be here for Charlie and for Aleena.”
They all wished her well as they left her in the ballroom to enjoy the rest of the night with her friends.
“My best friend, my coach, my back-up singer in the car. He was everything to me,” says Aleena.
Aleena sees the officers as her father’s brothers and sister. She is thankful they are always there with her.