For most people, it’s getting down on one knee that makes a proposal special. For Jacob Newbern and Mary Batar, it was standing up that made all the difference.
Newbern and Batar have been together for years and have three daughters — a 3-year-old and twin 2-month-olds — but this year they encountered something they weren’t expecting.
Newbern was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Paralyzed by the condition from the waist down, he was told it could be months before he saw any improvement.
Instead of letting the diagnosis get him down, he decided that he was going to walk, and he set a concrete timeline for himself.
“I looked at Dr. Bond in his eyes and I said, ‘I plan on walking in two months,'” he told Good Morning America. “I was 100 percent dedicated.”
“(He’s doing) phenomenal,” said his doctor, Ronnie Bond. “For him, he was progressing way more than I would expect. With this disease it can take months before there’s any type of recovery.”
Perhaps because of his motivation or the consistent, positive support of his girlfriend, he’s improved quickly and decided that now, more than ever, was the time to take their relationship to the next level.
“I’ve seen my worst and I’ve seen my best and she’s been there with me the whole time. She’s very strong,” said Newbern.
“Any woman that can deal with three kids, two newborns and a 3-year-old…with all the stress that she’s got on her and still being able to come in here with a smile on her face, I just can’t believe that.”
Batar must have known something was up when she opened the door to his Orange Park Medical Center Inpatient Rehabilitation Center room. There was a rose-petal-lined walkway studded with candles, Newbern waiting at the other end.
“We’ve been through hell, especially this last year…” he said as she cried. “And you’ve stuck by my side.”
“I know you love me and I love you, alright? And I think it is time.” Then, Newbern stood up, and Batar lost it all over again.
“So will you marry me?”
“She was shocked,” Newbern said later in an interview. “It was my very first time standing up completely by myself. I’m surprised she didn’t drop down to the floor. She was so excited.”
Obviously she said yes, but told him he could sit down again. Newbern will continue therapy, but was released from the rehab center the next day, and hopes to continue improving and bringing awareness to this condition.
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