Sonia And Sam: The Story Behind “Our Love Is As Real As Yours”

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July 16, 2013 // Blog

I love love. And since this romance reminded me of Nick and Lindsey’s love story, I had to share.

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Sonia and Sam

Sonia and Sam

Forty year-old Sonia Knight and fifty-two year-old Sam Corprew, a couple in Virgina with developmental disabilities, met many years ago at a track and field event sponsored by Special Olympics.

“On May 23,” Sam says, absolutely certain of the exact date. “She’s a very nice girl and she’s really smart,” he added.

One thing they have in common? Sports. Big time. He’s a Raider’s fan, she cheers for the

Sam kisses Sonia after she wins a Special Olympic medal

Sam kisses Sonia after she wins a
Special Olympic medal

Miami Dolphins. Yet their football rivalry never comes between them. They also like to play video games, to watch T.V., to play charades. And they still participate in Special Olympics whenever they get the chance. Sonia won another medal in June and Sam eagerly rewarded her with a victory kiss.

Sonia can’t read or write (except her name), but Sam can. He passed the State Of Virginia driving test and drives Sonia around Virgina Beach in his red Pontiac Grand Am. They built a loyal friendship. Over the years, their friendship grew into something more and they decided to share a two-bedroom apartment.

Now Sam works in a laundry facility washing linens for hotels. Sonia performs janitorial jobs for Geico. They both work 25-30 hours each week, earning too much to qualify for Social Security benefits, although Sonia does receive Medicaid. Section 8 housing pays a portion of their rent.

Sam’s mother died several years ago and Sam found himself alone in this world. Until Sonia. She fell in love with him. So Sonia’s family fell in love with him, too. Sonia’s mother, Lia Knight, helps the couple budget; she pays their bills; she buys their groceries; and she cooks their meals. At sixty, Ms. Knight supports herself by cleaning other people’s homes and taking the elderly to and from medical appointments. She cooks for her clients, too. It’s getting harder to do this work due to severe arthritis in her hands and knees, but she’ll do what she can, for as long as she can.

Sonia and Sam can’t imagine ever being apart from each other.

“We want to get married,” Sonia said, during the last week in May.  “On the beach. In the sand.” She’d been talking about a wedding for years: how she dreamed of looking like a princess; how Sam wanted to wear a white suit; how they both wanted Sonia’s two nieces to be the flower girls; and how they’d already picked four people (each) who would stand beside them in front of the preacher. Ms. Knight suggested a small backyard wedding, but Sonia squinted her eyes and tilted her head. Her black glasses slid a bit forward on her nose. “Can’t I get married like my sisters did? We want a reception.” Sonia squinted her eyes tighter. “We want a first dance. We want to eat meat and mashed potatoes.”

Mrs. Knight planned to take out a loan to make her daughter’s dream come true, but Sonia’s sister, Monica Johnson, suggested another route: a WePay campaign to fund the wedding. Monica created a Facebook page to spread the word: Sonia and Sam, Our Love Is As Real As Yours. She ordered Sonia and Sam wristbands to sell for three bucks each–with all the proceeds going toward this couple’s special day. And it’s not like this family is planning a Kardashian event. They’ve budgeted three thousand dollars. The campaign is already a third of the way funded.

Last weekend, a woman donated a used wedding dress, but it didn’t fit Sonia the way she’d hoped. Ms. Knight took the bride-to-be shopping for a gown that Sonia would love. Shirley Slayton, of LeStar Bridal, listened to this special couple’s story, then charged Sonia only one hundred dollars for an eight hundred dollar dress.  Sonia practically skipped through the open glass front door with the new gown draped over her arm.

“It’s white,” Monica told me in a phone call. “And sleeveless. It goes to Sonia’s ankles. And she looks like a princess. Just like she wanted.”

Sonia's Bridal Bouquet

Sonia’s Bridal Bouquet

When it was time to pick out the wedding flowers, Sonia said, “I want dark pink.” She picked a simple bouquet of roses to carry when her father walks her down the white sandy aisle. “And I want dark pink for the bridesmaids and maid of honor dresses, too,” she added.  Monica surfed Ebay and located dresses

Flower Girl Dresses

Flower Girl Dresses

that met Sonia’s approval, then found two white satin and chiffon flower girls dresses, adorned with dark pink sashes around the bodice. The dresses came with matching dark pink headbands, too.

Dr. Scott Rosenblum, the dentist in Virginia Beach that Monica works for, donated enough money for the family to put a deposit on a reception hall. Mary Stone, a wedding planner saw Sonia and Sam’s story on Facebook and asked to make this couple’s dream a reality. She offered her services free-of-charge. Mary spoke to Leon at Leon’s Custom Cuisine. He cut his regular price to less than half and plans to serve a menu of grilled chicken, sliced prime rib tips, and mashed potatoes to the reception guests. Two wedding cakes have been donated, compliments of Monica’s co-worker, Jennifer Brooks, and Anna Lilly, owner of Bella Cakes.

“Oh my God, I’m gonna cry,” Sonia said, when she heard of the generosity of all these people. “I can’t believe they want to help us.”

Sam and Sonia pick out their "First Dance" song

Sam and Sonia pick out their “First Dance” song

Monica asked their Facebook followers to recommend music for the bride and groom’s “First Dance” as husband and wife. On Sunday afternoon, the couple listened to all the suggested songs and picked, You Are by Charlie Wilson. They’ve hired a DJ. And Monica secretly shared, “I know they would love to ride in a limousine. They’ve never done that before.” But Monica isn’t sure if their budget will allow for such a luxury. “But it would be a great surprise if we can afford it,” Monica added.

Sonia’s dad will be flying in from Medford, Oregon. Other family members are traveling from various cities and towns. The family cleverly scheduled the August 11th wedding to coincide with an already pre-planned family reunion. “To save everyone money,” Monica explained. “So they don’t have the expense of making two trips.

In August, after the late afternoon Sunday vows, the official wedding dances, the meat and mashed potatoes,

Sam and Sonia walk along the beach

Sam and Sonia walk along the beach

visiting with friends and family, and all the other reception festivities, Sonia and Sam will spend two nights honeymooning at a Virginia Beach hotel near the sandy spot they plan to marry. The next day, this couple will hold hands and walk out of the hotel. They will stroll down Virginia Beach for the first time as husband and wife, and remember their wedding day and the generous people who made this special dream come true.

 

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If you would like to help make Sonia and Sam’s dream a reality, please check out their Facebook page: Sonia and Sam, Our Love Is As Real As Yours, or their WePay page where you can make any size donation, starting with $1. Every little bit helps.

Wedding wishes can be mailed to:
Sonia and Sam
c/o Monica Johnson
741 Tanoak Ct
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

If you prefer to email a wish, please use this special address created just for them: specialweddingwishes@gmail.com

All photographs on this post are compliments of Monica Johnson at Sonia And Sam: Our Love Is As Real As Yours

  • bdnewell

    I would love to re-post this on my blog on my WordPress site, Cakes and Corks. But would certainly not do without your permission. I’ve already donated some items to this wedding, and I think it’s a story that needs to be told. I make wedding related items as well as do some wedding planning. The more we can get this out, the better!

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      Please do re-post. Thank you for asking. The family (and I) would love it. Please include the link to my site if possible when you do. I’m hoping they have the most wonderful wedding. And please encourage any of your friends to share this link, too. Warm regards, Linda Atwell

      • bdnewell

        Will be re-posting this afternoon. .Hoping to get a lot more response! The website is http://www.cakesandcorks.com, and the Blog page is “Cake Bites”.

        • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

          Awesome! I’ll check it out. And thanks!

  • Kristi – Finding Ninee

    Oh Linda,
    Do you know them personally? I love their story and again, just like Lindsey’s and Nick’s, it warms my heart and gives me hope for Tucker finding love too. I shared this on my FB page, “Liked” their FB page and plan to go donate now and share on Twitter. I love that you know this stuff. So much. It makes me want to go to Virginia Beach to see them (about a 5-hour drive for me) and give them wedding gifts in person. Thanks for sharing another amazing story, my friend.

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      I emailed you with one answer, Kristi. Thanks so much for reading and sharing this post in particular. I know this family will appreciate it. And I’d love to go to the wedding, too. If I wasn’t going to be in Virginia in Sept, I’d probably hop a plane and meet you there! I love how supportive the blogging community is. It feels so good to be able to help each other spread happy stories.

  • LoveThatMax

    Linda, I got a serious bliss rush reading this—love that they are going to have the wedding of their dreams, and it will make me happy to contribute to it.

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      I love bliss rushes! Thank you for visiting my site and reading. Sonia and Sam have had huge community support. Really amazing.

  • http://myconstantthought.blogspot.com/ Donetta Sifford

    This is so touching and beautiful. Made my morning to read it first thing on the madness that is Facebook. I would be happy to contribute and wish them all the best!!!!

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      Thanks Donetta. Not only for stopping by, but for offering to help them out. They will truly appreciate it.

  • Sherri

    I know the boh of them and I am very happy that they are getting married. Always know Sam and Sonia that you are loved by a lot of people.

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      Thanks Sherri for the sweet note. I love it when people leave a comment and it is nice to read one from someone who knows them personally. So glad you stopped by. Hope you visit again.

  • Rosemary Alfonso

    This is a fabulous story. So great, a community coming together to help and share in this beautiful day. Congratulations and many happy years of marriage.

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      So glad you enjoyed. It is amazing how supportive their community is. They’ve taken this special couple under their wings. I love it!

  • Kaylee Walter

    Cried a little while reading this :,) helping with special Olympics is my life and I will definitely share this story. Best of luck to the happy couple! :)

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      Thank you Kaylee for sharing. It is an amazing love story. I hope this couple reaches their goal. Besides a supportive community, Sonia and Sam have a wonderful, supportive family, too. Thank you so much for stopping by to read. Especially appreciated the comment and for sharing!

    • K. Stoeckel

      I cried too! <3

  • lori

    Wishing Sam and Sonia all the very best for the future, loved reading this story, may you both be very happy together, best wishes from Scotland x

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      Lori, I will pass your wishes on to the future bride and groom. Thanks so much for reading and leaving them your good wishes…especially from Scotland. How cool is that?

  • Dave Taylor

    Gracious, what a wonderful loving story. So very touching and so very true too. Hits the heart. Sending wishes from Williamsburg Ontario Canada. Only could wish I(we) could be there to see the wonderful smiles on their faces. Congratulations to the Bride and Groom. All the best and thanks to all the ones helping this to be a fact. You all need large pats on the backs. God Bless

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      Thanks for reading and leaving a message. Will be passing your kind words onto the bride and groom.

  • Monica

    Thank you so much for everyones kind words! I will be sharing all of your comments with Sonia and Sam this weekend :)

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      This is Sonia’s sister. She’s a very good sista!

  • The Pink Roller Coaster

    Linda,
    Thank you so much for this lovely story. I’m so glad I found you on the Love That Max link up! Okay, I’m off to visit Sonia and Sam’s page, and make a little donation. :)
    Brigid

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      So glad you found us. I know they will appreciate anything. You are very kind. I’ll be checking you out tonight. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and leaving a comment.

    • Monica

      Thank you so much for supporting my Sister and Sam’s dream :)

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  • K. Stoeckel

    Linda,
    I have a disabled adopted sister, and while things between her and I have been rough at times; I understand those that are disabled still need to feel as though they have every right to marry just like everyone else. My sister would be overjoyed if she were allowed to marry her best friend in the whole world. Just to know that this has so much incredible love and support poured into it makes my heart fill with gladness and joy that Sonia and Sam are being treated with the love and generosity that everyone should be treated with. While I’m unable to financially make a donation, my love for these two beautiful people will be with them on their wedding day. Thank you, to all who support this, for making this world a better place. Love to you all,
    The Stoeckels

    • http://outoneear.com/ Linda Atwell

      Don’t worry about donating–there has been such an outpouring of support that we just appreciate people spreading the word by sharing. That can be as rewarding as a financial gift. :-)

      Being a caretaker (full or part-time) to anyone can certainly have rough roads. I know that from raising my daughter with special needs. I hope your sister finds her dream man and will marry some day. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. Thanks so much for your comment. I’ll pass on your sweet words to the bride and groom. And if you want to read more of Out One Ear, please look over the site. You might find words that you can relate to regarding your sister. Would love to have you as a regular reader. Don’t know if you read my daughter’s love story but it is sweet, too. click here: http://outoneear.com/a-special-needs-couple-finds-love/

    • Monica

      Thank you so much for your kind words! Just know that the only limitations we have are those we place on ourselves! We are honored to have you as one of Sonia and Sam’s supporters! A simple share of our facebook page is just as amazing as any financial donation! please feel free to follow them personally on their page :)
      http://www.facebook.com/soniaandsam

  • Monica

    I have read all of your messages here as well as their email account to both Sonia and Sam and they loved each and every one of them! Thank you so much to all of you who are showing them your love and support! #TeamSoniaAndSam!

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