We asked for your love stories and we received dozens of heart-warming responses. Here is the story from the grand prize winners who received an overnight stay from Cedar Rock Inn.

January 1976, Marshall Elementary school ... Firefighters from Station 18 on Peoria drove their engine to the school to teach fire safety to the kindergartners.

One student, Ben, was so impressed that he told his mother all about it and what he learned: “My friend the fireman came to school today. He told us not to play with matches and to stop, drop and roll. He sprayed water.”

Ben’s lasting impression of his “friend the fireman” caused him to draw pictures of firemen daily, to prattle on about the fireman — this one in particular — for many days.

Fast forward a week when Ben’s mom, a mother of two who was raising her children alone since a divorce four years before, had a blind date with a nice fellow — lunch at Nine of Cups.

As conversation developed, she learned he was a firefighter and she laughed, saying it was a coincidence because her son was quite taken with some firefighter who had come to his school.

“Fred the Fireman” asked which school and said, “Marshall, that’s in my district — I was out there last week.”

Whoa … more comparisons, then he said, “I bet I know which kid was yours — the little guy with the glasses who pushed up to the front and asked a lot of questions.”

Ben’s mom dropped her jaw — “Yes, yes, he’s the one.”

The first time Fred came to our home to take me on a date, Ben ran to the door, stopped in his tracks, looked at this tall guy from his boots to his head and said in awe, “That’s my friend the fireman.”

It was love at first sight, for Ben, his older brother, Chris, and for me. We married at St. John’s Episcopal Church a few months later. We should give the good Lord some credit, as I had prayed for a man who would love my children as much as he loved me.

Forty-four years have passed and Ben and his brother (and I, of course) still know that Fred is our hero and the best dad our family could ever have.

— Jessica Stowell, native Tulsan, still deeply in love with her fireman