Wednesday, October 12, 2011

News and Updates: Salute to Love

As you all know by now, I'm a freakin sucker for love stories. Especially proposal stories. I get goosebumps when they get to the part where they say, "And then I/he got down on one knee..." Yeah, that's where I lose it. My eyes well up with tears and I'm done for. 

Well, @LyndseyMAlmon sent me a tweet last night with a link to a story about her friend John. I almost didn't click the link because I was in the middle of blogging while simultaneously watching/complaining about the Kardashian Fairytale Wedding. I waited until the 4-hour drama-filled, ridiculous "fairytale" wedding was over and my blog was posted before I clicked it. The link sent me to yet another contest for brides- and grooms-to-be to win a dream wedding. (No, I'm not hating. You'll surely find my ass asking for a vote one of these days!) The contest is called "Salute to Love: The Ultimate Outer Banks Wedding Experience Giveaway for a Deserving Military Couple."

I scrolled until I found John and Meghan and I clicked on their story. And now I HAVE to share it with you. This couple, John and Meghan, truly deserve a fairytale wedding. 

John and MeghanAir ForceWright Patterson Air Force Base, OH

How and when did you meet your fiance(e)?: We met at a local coffee shop in downtown Colorado Springs, CO. She was in town training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and I was finishing my last semester at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

After a long afternoon of studying in the local coffee shop for mid-term exams I decided my brain had endured enough, and headed out to make my way back to the Academy to call it a night. As I got up to leave, she was sitting quietly reading by herself in the middle of this crowded bustling place. The emotions I experienced over the next 30 minutes, as I repeatedly left and reentered the coffee shop (in a desperate effort to muster up the courage to talk to her) ranged from smitten, to anxious, to obsessed and to downright terrified! Her long blonde hair, tall athletic physique, and captivatingly piercing blue eyes were quite intimidating to say the least.Over our first conversation I learned that the amazingly beautiful girl I had approached was the captain of the U.S. NationalSynchronized Swim Team, a former Beijing Olympian, and in the middle of training for the 2012 Olympics in London. I wasamazed and even more amazed she was captivated with my story as well. Meghan had actually never heard of the Air ForceAcademy, and had little exposure to the military lifestyle. We talked for hours about her travels to competitions in China,Russia, Italy, Spain and my experiences jumping out of airplanes, running the Leadville 100, and my plans to travel toThailand as a volunteer for disadvantaged youth.The next morning I picked Meghan up at the training center and we headed off to tour the Academy before driving up toDenver, all the while constantly chattering like two canaries in a cardboard box. That day I knew that what I told myroommate the night before (that this was love at first sight and I would marry her) would someday come true. I had no cluehow it would happen but I was absolutely sure that it would.Unfortunately, less than a week after meeting, Meghan was headed back to California to train with her team and our future asa couple seemed uncertain at best. However, we each felt the same instant connection so we vowed to keep an open mindand more importantly keep talking.Our faith in our connection would eventually pay off in some incredibly unforeseen ways. After graduation from the Academy I had been planning to go to Thailand to volunteer but the Red Shirt protests of May 2010 forced me to change my plans to go to Peru instead. Luckily this gave me a few extra days after graduation so I took the opportunity to travel to California tobe with Meghan.
After a summer apart, incredibly significant event would forever change both of our lives and bring us even closertogether.On October 7th, Meghan called from the Olympic Training Center, as trainers, coaches and doctors frantically discussed theresults of a routine x-ray for nagging knee pain that revealed a tumor the size of a golf ball behind her knee cap. The tumorhad eviscerated from the bone into the soft tissue of her knee and had possibly (they feared) metastasized to the rest of herbody. As I attempted to process all of this information from the comfort and safety of my couch in Ohio 2000 miles away, theincredible feeling that I was about to embark on something amazing with her could not be ignored. I made the decision rightthere to stand beside her through the unknown but I believe that us being together made everything much moremanageable. She decided to go through treatment in Ohio so that she could be close to me and also close to her formerteammates at The Ohio State University.The next 9 months would be filled with appointments, week-long hospital stays, one major 9 hour surgery and hundreds of 1-hr drives from Dayton to Columbus where she was receiving treatments. My assignment at WPAFB is actually as a graduatestudent and I did the majority of my class work and even took most of my final exams in the hospital! In fact, I was even ableto achieve a 4.0 GPA for the last two class quarters. Together, we spent over 100 nights in the hospital but the love that weshared for each other kept us focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.Meghan finished chemotherapy treatment on July 14. It was then that I knew that I unequivocally wanted to spend the rest ofmy life with her and I proposed to her on August 20, 2011.

How did you get engaged?: At a coffee shop, of course! Two of my friends here in Dayton own a local coffee shop andthey helped me plan the perfect engagement. After speaking at the 2011 Health and Fitness Expo in Columbus, we decidedto head back to Dayton for the night and I asked if she wanted to go say hey to our friends at Press Coffee Bar. She,thankfully, said yes and once back in town we went to the coffee shop to order our favorite drinks. Unbeknownst to her, I hadprearranged a proposal surprise. There is a special song to us both by a band named Train with the following lyrics:Together can never be close enough for me Feel like I am close enough to you You wear white and I'll wear out the words Ilove And you're beautiful Now that the wait is over And love and has finally shown her my way Marry me Today and everyday Marry me If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe Say you will Mm-hmm Say you will Mm-hmmI gave the song to Janelle at the coffee shop and she agreed to play that song, and serve us champagne (instead of coffee)as part of the surprise. As we sat down she started flipping through a magazine, and minutes later the song cameon. Immediately, she looked at me as my eyes started to well but I kept my composure. “Just a lovely coincidence” shethought, before Janelle called out our order and we both stood up to get it. At the counter were two glasses of champagneand a burgundy red ring box with the engagement ring I had gotten sparkling brilliantly under the bright lights. Tears instantlyflowed from both of our faces as I took a knee. I don’t even remember what I said, but all she did was say yes! We hugged,and we cried and the whole coffee shop cheered.

Tell us why you think you deserve the Salute To Love.: After 18 months together and battling cancer together on the frontlines, I believe that we are humbly deserving of an amazing wedding experience. Due to the enormously high costsassociated with her cancer treatment, we have been faced with a very limited budget to plan our dream wedding, addingunnecessary stress to our situation. I love this girl so much and it would absolutely mean the world to me to be able to giveher the dream wedding that she (and her family) deserves.As my career in the Air Force blossoms I know that I will need to look no further than the person beside me for my biggestinspiration. Patriotic selfless service is something that we are both truly passionate about, and also something that we haveembodied in our choices and actions. As ambassadors for the United States, we both realize the amazing opportunities thatliving in such an amazing place brings. Especially now, when it seems like peoples’ trust in celebrities and world leaders isfading due to inappropriate and unethical actions, Meghan and I both want to be a beacon of hope and measure of inspirationfor everyone that comes across our story. I feel that we deserve the Salute to Love because a dream wedding like this wouldset the tone for an amazing marriage and we are both looking forward to making this world a better place together!

Let's help them get their fairyale. To vote for John and Meghan, click HERE and scroll to the bottom. 

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