Melanie and Joel first met when they were 5 years old playing on the same soccer team, and the again while attending the same high school in Bradenton Florida. Young teens whose friendship bond grew strong and by their junior year they were going steady. That was 2010 and they were just 16.
Post high school, Joel went on to the University of South Florida in Tampa and Melanie chose Florida State University in Tallahassee. They were living four hours apart yet managed to make the long distance relationship work for 3 years until both graduated with Bachelor degrees.
After graduation they decided to move to Orlando which seemed like the best compromise for Melanie’s continuing studies and Joel’s career start.
On June 9th, 2015 while visiting their hometown, Joel sent Melanie on a scavenger hunt with friends. Each time Melanie solved a clue she was met by a friend with another clue all of which eventually spelled out “Marry Me?” and led Melanie to Siesta Beach where Joel was waiting.
That day we were testing the possibility of going to the top of the 27 waterfalls with cruise ship passengers and I offered everyone the option of going mid-way as booked or going to the top. As newlyweds often do… Melanie and Joel chose to go all the way!
Joel felt his precious wedding ring slip from his finger! Not while hiking or jumping or sliding down waterfalls and cascading streams but, standing there in the last pool simply waiting to get out.
Panicked, he and the guides tried desperately to find the ring but the water was too disturbed from all the jumpers that day. It was a sad ending for what had been a perfect day up until that point.
Imagine the cheers and happiness the next morning when Arido (the guide who'd promised to go back) popped up out the water with wedding ring in hand! I couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear while emailing the newlyweds that Joel's “PRECIOUS” had been recovered and
While a lot of quotes like “never give up” and “hope springs eternal” readily come to mind, I think the most stirring message for me that day was