When Cody, a 30-year-old man with Down syndrome, met Lisa, a 24-year-old woman with intellectual disabilities, it was love at first sight. Their attentive guardians affirmed that never had two people connected so quickly.
Cody and Lisa began their unexpected romance in a residence for individuals with special needs in Lakeland, Florida. They bonded over their shared love for dancing, singing, Josh Groban, and Disney.
Over two years, their feelings grew, and they soon began talking about the possibility of getting married.
However, the parents of the couple were worried about the future. If they decided to marry, their social benefits would be reduced by approximately $400 per month, leaving them with little to live on.
“This generated incredible concern,” Cody’s parents, Kim Hittenen-Derst and Dave Derst, recounted.
“They felt pain, anger, and disappointment in anticipating that their dreams might go unfulfilled. This situation began to manifest in their behavior.
Individuals with cognitive difficulties often have communication issues, leading to behavioral problems.”
In response to the parents’ concerns, Kim and Dave decided to move Cody to Grand Rapids, Michigan. But even that didn’t stop Lisa and Cody from staying together.
They found secret ways to communicate, sometimes hacking passwords and communicating through mutual friends.
Two years later, when the parents finally relented and decided to help, the moment of Cody and Lisa’s reunion at the airport after a long separation was captured. Get ready for some tissues!
But the story doesn’t end there. The lovebirds had a wonderful stay in Michigan, and one day, during a family dinner, Cody made a life-changing proposal.
Taking a ring out of his pocket, he asked Lisa to become his wife.
Of course, she said “yes”! Cody’s parents stated they were now determined to do everything possible to help this couple have a stable home where they could live together forever.
On their GoFundMe page, they wrote, “Marriage has been Cody and Lisa’s dream from the start. Despite all our efforts to encourage them to move forward, God had His own plans.”