Anne and Steve

I met a boy near the end of my second year at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). His name is Steve, and it was on a spring break trip with Campus Crusade for Christ, now called CRU, in March 2009. I had just gotten my new processor for my Auditory Brainstem Implant, as I had lost my hearing 3 years prior. I had a few other friends on the trip that were deaf or hard of hearing too. Many of the others were using ASL as their primary form of communication, however, I just wanted to practice listening with this super new ear of mine! Soon after I met Steve, I realized that he was one of few people that I was able to understand easily, so that week I spent a lot of time hanging out with him, just talking and listening, and he would repeat things when somebody else said something, that I didn’t understand.

I told him about the genetic disorder I had called Neurofibromatosis Type 2, from which I had lost my hearing when I was 18. Steve had just turned 19 and had no idea when he met me that I was already 21. He told me about how he enjoyed swimming a lot, but had to stop competing due to chlorine-induced asthma. I had lost my hearing and he had lost swimming competitively – we understood each other!

I also told Steve that I liked running a lot, which he thought was really strange, because he equates running with… pain and misery. He soon learned about a team that I do fundraising with and run marathons with, for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Steve also told me that he had signed up to do a sign language class for the spring quarter and I offered to start teaching him some right then and there on our spring break trip – something that I had just recently learned, myself. By the end of the week I had made a new friend. I wouldn’t say it was a relationship at that time, because I think I was a bit cautious, plus he had a girlfriend from home.

That summer, I went and drove all by myself to a summer job in Colorado. I texted him sometimes and he would occasionally comment on the photos from my trip that I loaded onto Facebook. One day, I got a text message saying that he had broken up with his girlfriend…so that meant he was available now. Later I learned that God had told him that his ex was not the woman for him. A few weeks later she was in a car accident and nearly died, through which they became close friends and remain so, to this day.

That next fall semester, I asked Steve to come to running club. He came even though he hated running (I think he just wanted to hang out with me). I got him to do some races, first 3 miles, then 4, then 5, and eventually an 8 mile race on his 20th birthday. It was also that fall that we officially started dating – the day after doing a Halloween race, dressed as a 6-pack of beer, with us and 4 others from running club. We went to some crazy winter races and during the next spring break, I took him to meet my parents in Atlanta and tried my best to show him the city in those 6 days – the Varsity, Chick-fil-A, my home church, and running 14 miles around Stone Mountain.

We came back to NY for the rest of break and ended up doing the open race of the National Snowshoe Championships. After that, he got more involved in hockey and curling, and running less, though we continued to do a few events together.

Steve told me that he learned about a 70.3 Ironman that goes practically right by his house and said that he wanted to do it the following year. I had never done a triathlon, but I knew I wanted to. I said that I would do it too. He thought I was half-way kidding!

So, the next year came and we both did a triathlon that he Steve done the before – in the summer of 2010. It was 5am when we woke up to go to this race. It was a 1500 meter swim, a 24 mile bike ride, then 6.2 mile run. When I reached the finish line, his sister who had been there to take pictures of us racing, had actually woken up so early for another reason too.

engagement marathonSteve finished the race in 2:38 and I finished in 3:09. As I ran into the finish line, he was standing at the end of the finish chute, holding a small wooden box, which his sister had been holding for the entire duration of the race. In that box was a ring.

I ran as fast as I could into the finish and there he was. I started telling him that he was supposed to kneeling on one knee. I think I was so excited that I was saying “YES!” before he got the question out!

Then I told him that he was supposed to put it on my finger, and he did.

A couple of months later, we both finished the Syracuse 70.3 Ironman, which was definitely the hardest race I have ever done (though I can’t wait to do more of them)!

I’m still not sure how I a southern girl like me ended up falling in love with this “Eskimo-hockey-Mountain goat-merman,” but I know it’s a match made in heaven and I will spend the rest of my life with him. I love Steve so very much.

Take a look at Anne’s blog project benefitting Neurofibromatosis!