ELIZABETH– People with disabilities at times face challenges in life that allow them to demonstrate their independence and self-sufficiency, yet falling in love is not one of those hurdles. In fact, it is quite easy and natural, according to members of Community Access Unlimited (CAU) who recently celebrated Couples Night on March 13.
Each March CAU hosts the evening at Suburban County Club to allow members who are in committed relationships to celebrate their love and dedication to one another. This year 20 couples gathered to raise their glasses to their soul mate. While each celebrant is a person with disabilities, their stories are as similar and heartwarming as found in any relationship.
Mary and Ed Kurnos met at Sandy Hook eight years ago and dated for 2-1/2 years before getting married.
“We get along very well,” said Mary. “We’re loyal and sincere. We trust, care for and understand each other. We give each other a lot of support.”
Debbie Jenkins and James Williams tell the familiar story of enjoying the strength of a relationship built, in part, on lessons learned from earlier marriages. They have been together 16 years and were married in 2009 with both their families in attendance.
“We didn’t rush into marriage,” James said. “We waited 16 years.”
Added Debbie, “He was always there for me. When my grandparents and father passed away, he was there. Now we’re always doing things together. He treats me the way I want to be treated. I guess we were meant to be together.”
Marcella Truppa and Mark Bloom are that typical couple who have known each other since junior high school but got together later in life. They re-met at a New Year’s Eve party and romance was kindled. Together for nine years, Truppa and Bloom are scheduled to be married Valentine’s Day 2011. As with so many girls and women, her wedding day is one for which Truppa has been waiting her entire life.
“This was my dream for a long time, to get married,” she said.
Sharon Mohry and Ed Eiser share many of the same interests that fill the lives of couples everywhere. They are fans of the Newark Bears and New York Yankees, enjoy going to dinner and the movies and love to cuddle, according to Eiser.
The couple has been together “a very long time,” Mohry said with a laugh after declining to be more specific. She believes that people with disabilities should never hesitate to become romantically involved and pursue long-term relationships and marriage.
“Everyone should be able to get together,” she said. “We talk to each other, go out, enjoy each other’s company.”
In toasting the member couples, CAU executive director Sid Blanchard said, “In honor of all your love and commitment over the past year and in the future, I want you to look at your partner and say, ‘I love you.’ Congratulations.”
The clink of 40 glasses echoed his wishes.
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