During his years as a professional martial artist, Danny Gutierrez never felt nervous. That changed when he got on stage at the St. Petersburg College Allstate Center to recite the firefighter’s prayer during the Fire Academy Class 51 graduation ceremony in December.
“I was a professional fighter for eight years. I fought in cage matches and I wrestled, but I never felt like I did on that stage. My palms were sweating,” Danny said.
He was not having an ordinary case of stage fright as he stood before his class. He was preparing to propose to his high school sweetheart, Lydia. The two had been dating since he was a sophomore in high school. He was giving up professional marital arts fighting to join the fight to save lives and provide a better life for his future family.
“I stand before you to dismiss Class 51,” Danny said at the end of the romantic graduation ceremony, “but I can’t dismiss the love of my life.”
Members of Class 51 brought Lydia to the front of the room. And Danny went down on one knee and popped the question.
Chief James Angle, Public Safety Training Program Director, stepped in to make sure everyone at the event knew what was going on. “Excuse me, excuse me,’ he called. “People in the back want to know . . . did she say yes?”
The answer – of course she did!
Since his romantic graduation in January, Danny has joined Sunstar as an Emergency Medical Technician. Lydia, who also is an SPC student, is working her way through prerequisites for the college’s nursing program and plans to become a registered nurse.
This SPC couple’s wedding is set for November 2018.