Amberlynn Fountaine would have preferred staying by her father’s side at his Stony Brook University Medical Center room Saturday morning. Instead, she fulfilled his dream of watching her receive her diploma along with the rest of her peers graduating Riverhead High School.
Just two days ago, the Northampton home Amberlynn, 18, shared with her family went up in flames, severely burning her father, Tracey Fountaine.
“It has been really hard,” an emotional Amberlynn said following the ceremony. “But, my dad really wanted me to come to my graduation.”
Mr. Fountaine is now in stable condition and in “good spirits,” according to his family. Especially now that he got to see his youngest daughter graduate high school from his hospital bed, thanks to the help of modern technology.
Amberlynn’s older sister, Cherelle Williams-Clayton, recorded as she walked down the aisle to receive her diploma on the Riverhead High School football field. Thirty miles away in Stony Brook, Mr. Fountaine shared the moment, viewing it live via FaceTime — an iPhone video chat tool.
“It was the greatest gift she could have given him,” said Amberlynn’s aunt, Judy Clarke. “It was the best thing for him.”
Ms. Fountaine added: “I am very proud of her for this. She didn’t really want to come, but we told her not to let anything stop her. We wouldn’t have wanted to miss this. She is the last one to graduate.”
Amberlynn also attended prom Friday night at the urging of her father. Her prom dress was spared from the blaze; it was being altered at the time.
Amberlynn said she was excited to graduate and looked forward to going to college in the future, but for now her priority was getting back to her father’s side. The family was heading back to Stony Brook to visit him immediately following the ceremony.
“I’m happy that even though he couldn’t be here that he could see it,” Amberlynn said.
Mr. and Mrs. Fountaine, as well as their three daughters and their dog China — a pitbull sharpei — were all in the home at the time of the fire. Mr. Fountaine was the only one hospitalized after the incident.
Mr. Fountaine had just gotten home from a shift working as an officer at Brookhaven National Lab when one of his daughters “smelled something funny.” It turned out to be a fire in the laundry room, which completely destroyed the house.
Friends and family have established a GoFundMe account hoping to raise $10,000 for the Fountaine family, which lost most of its belongings in the fire.