Love always finds a way.
When Cody, a 30-year-old man with Down syndrome, first met Lisa, it was love at first sight. In fact, their caregivers said they’ve never seen two people connect so quickly.
Cody and Lisa, who is 24 and cognitively delayed, began their whirlwind romance at a housing community for individuals with special needs in Lakeland, Florida. They bonded over their mutual love of dancing, singing, Josh Groban, and Disney. Over the course of two years, they fell deeper and deeper in love, and it wasn’t long before they started discussing marriage.
They couldn’t wait to spend the rest of their lives together, but there was one catch. Their parents were terrified for their future. If they did get married, their social security benefits would decrease by about $400 a month, leaving them very little to live on.
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“This caused incredible frustration for each of them,” Cody’s parents, Kim Hytinen-Durst and Dave Durst, explained. “They were hurt, angry, and disappointed that they may never see their dreams come true. They started to display behavior issues. Most people with cognitive impairments struggle to communicate effectively, which causes the frustration to come out as behavior struggles.”
As Lisa and Cody both began to act out in their communal living facility, their families grew increasingly worried that they would become depressed or be kicked out of their housing.
Finally, Kim and Dave decided to move Cody to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
We all thought it would be best that they stay apart and move on with their lives. How could they make it? Who would support them? She was in Florida, he was here, in Michigan. We changed phone numbers, passwords, shut down social media, and encouraged them to move on.
But Lisa and Cody refused to be parted! They found ways to secretly reconnect, sometimes even hacking passwords and communicating through mutual friends.
Over the next two years, they begged and pleaded to be together — until finally their parents stopped fighting the inevitable and decided to do what they could to help.
After all that time apart, their families captured a video of the moment Cody met Lisa at the airport for their first visit. Get a tissue; you’ll need it!
The surprises didn’t end there either! The lovebirds had a wonderful time during Lisa’s visit to Michigan, and one night at a family dinner, Cody revealed something that would change their lives forever.
He pulled a ring from his pocket and asked her to be his wife!
Obviously, she said yes! Cody’s parents said they’re now determined to do everything they can to help these two secure a stable home where they can stay together forever.
“Getting married has been Cody and Lisa’s dream since day one,” they wrote on GoFundMe. “For years they have both been told no, it’s never going to happen. As much as we have tried to encourage them to move on without one another, God had other plans.”
Lisa has since moved to Michigan, where the sweet couple found a condo in a building for people with special needs. Best of all, they’re planning their wedding for next year!
Watch Cody pop the question in the video below, and be sure to share this story to remind others that love always wins.
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