My history with my fiance, Caroline, begins back in my senior year of high school in 2006. She grew up having her teeth cleaned by my mother, her dental hygienist. About every six months, Caroline would come in for a check up, and my mom would come home from work and explain, “You really need to meet this girl named Caroline. She is beautiful, sweet, and pretty much perfect for you.”  As any high school boy would do, I would always reply, “Oh mom, leave the girl stuff alone.” However, in the fall of 2005, my mom finally got her wish.
I first met Caroline while attending a college visit day at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. We didn’t talk much, mostly because I was intimidated by her. She was there on an official visit to meet with the basketball and volleyball team, and I was looking to study pre-med. I spend the day mesmerized by her beauty and not knowing what to say to break the ice with this beautiful girl. At the end of the day, we parted ways, and I realized my mom was right: she was perfect, and I knew I wanted to get to know her.
A few months later, I found out that Caroline’s volleyball team was playing at a tournament at my high school. She immediately caught my eye again, bringing back all those feelings I felt at IWU, not because she was dominating and recording kill after kill, but because she was just as I remembered: beautiful.

I finally talked to her that day, and it was so effortless. I  got her number, and we began to talk. We dated for the entirety of my senior year. It was such a great relationship, and we became best of friends. 

When the day came to go to college, we went our separate ways: her to the University of Illinois and me to Illinois Wesleyan. We both became involved in the things that our respective colleges had to offer, and we decided it was too difficult to do distance. However, we remained close friends, and communicated occasionally to check in and see how everything was going. 

In my Junior year of college, I decided to transfer to the University of Illinois to pursue a physical therapy degree (which was what Caroline was studying). I began attending classes there, and had a few with Caroline. It was a slow process, but the more time we spent together, the closer we became. As all the romantic feelings returned, it was only a matter of time before we began dating again. A few days before graduation in 2010, we started dating again, and have been dating ever since. 

I knew from that point that Caroline was the one I wanted to spend my life with. We both went to physical therapy school, her to Duke and me to Belmont University in Nashville, TN. We began a distance relationship, and those feeling only became stronger. 

When Caroline was in college, she volunteered for several summers with United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) in Springfield, IL, where she worked at a summer camp for developmentally and physically challenged children. She was nominated volunteer of the year for the entire state of Illinois, and was offered a summer staff position for the next two summers. She loved all the children involved with UCP, and they loved her. 

A month ago, she called me and mentioned she was going to be home from school for a week and was planning on visiting UCP and the kids. As soon as she said that, I knew it would be a perfect way to propose. I emailed the camp coordinator, and she loved the idea. She had to gain final approval from her boss (the president of UCP), and she liked it so much she wanted to have it recorded to play as part of UCP’s annual telethon in Januray. 

Once I had approval, I began to plan all the logistics of the proposal. I had to work around several conflicts, including changes in plans, changes in dates, and the untimely broken foot and surgery I had to undergo from playing in a basketball tournament a few weeks before I planned to do it. Despite this, I planned it all out, and the day finally came. 

She went to visit UCP that day thinking she was going to be interviewed about school, her desire to become a PT, and her time spent at UCP. When she arrived, the camp coordinator took her into the back room and began to interview her. Meanwhile, I was ushered into another room and waited for her to be done. Caroline thought I was in Nashville attending an all-day class, and was completely oblivious to the fact that I was at UCP about to propose to her. While she was in the back room, all the children at the camp (around 16 total) were put in colored T-shirts that, when arranged in the right order, spelled the phrase, “Will you marry me?”  Each kid had a shirt with a different letter, and they were arranged in order and sat quietly in chairs to wait for Caroline to come back into the common room where the children usually played. 

When the interview was over, Caroline entered into the common room thinking she was going to be recorded interacting with the children as part of the interview. When she walked in, the first thing she saw was all the kids she had watched grow up sitting in order with the phrase, “will you marry me”  written on their shirts. When she saw this, I had already snuck in behind her and was kneeling. She turned around, and I had the ring out and asked for her hand in marriage. She said yes, and we spent a few hours celebrating with the kids and Caroline’s former co-workers.

The camera crew that recorded the whole thing turned out to be a News Channel 20 camera crew, and they liked the whole process so much, they decided to play it on the 10 o’clock news. It was a great experience, and my small and intimate proposal become much more grand than I could have ever expected. And most important, I am so excited for my future with Caroline.

Vote by rating this story!
[Total: 23    Average: 4/5]

Last updated February 5, 2017