Lifestyle & Human Interest

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


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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