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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Video: 4 Years After Finding Love of His Life at Special Olympics, Man with Down Syndrome Proposes

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Many people dream of finding a spouse who shares the same interests they do. In an attempt to find that special someone, they make sure to keep their eyes open when browsing books at the bookstore or attending a class related to one of their hobbies.

It doesn’t always work out for everyone, but it has certainly worked out for Maddie Ehlers and Andrew Gerbitz.

According to Special Olympics Wisconsin, the two met for the first time almost a decade ago, and after four years, they started dating. May will mark their 5th year of dating, and Gerbitz knew it was time to make his move.

While the proposal may have been a surprise, the two athletes and their families have been marriage-minded for some time, working through things and attending weddings together until Gerbitz found the right moment.

The two love Zumba, and they take classes at the Pabst Farms YMCA in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin — so, he thought, why not propose there?

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He picked out a beautiful diamond ring, and planned the whole thing out, getting down on one knee in the middle of the class. Family and TMJ4 were invited to come and film the tender moment, and their footage has since gone viral.

“Maddie, I want to tell you something,” Gerbitz said as he got down on one knee. “I know I love you very much. But I want you to be in my life. Would you marry me please?”

She nodded yes, and wrapped him in a hug, wiping away tears.

“I was shocked,” she told Special Olympics Wisconsin. “He surprised me by getting down on one knee. I love him and I was really happy.”

“I was a little nervous, but it’s okay,” Gerbitz admitted behind the scenes. “All that matters is she’s in my life right now.”

“I can’t keep my eyes off of him,” Ehlers said. “I love him very much.”

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The two are certain of their affections for each other and have some wise words to share with viewers. “A heart is something that’s very strong,” Gerbitz shared. “That’s where your faith is. And my heart is with Maddie because I love her.”

With the proposal accepted, wedding planning is underway. The two hope to be married summer 2020, and are thinking of a barn wedding. As for the honeymoon location, Ehlers has her sights set somewhere a bit warmer.

“I think we’ll go to California or Hawaii maybe,” she said.

Their parents have supported them along their journey, and Ehlers’ mother is excited for the two and the future they’ll have together.

“They always say to each other, ‘I can’t take my eyes off of you,'” the mom said. “This is just the beginning of their love story.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking