Denise was none too happy with the way things were going on CatholicMatch. The site just didn't seem to be working for her, and the 37-year-old health-care worker from Orlando was ready to drop her membership. She decided on one last step, a modest change that would have a life-changing result.
"I expanded my search to 100 miles," she said. "The first person that popped up was Chris. I liked his smile, that was the first thing I was drawn too." Denise also liked that Chris, 40-years-old, and less than a two hours drive away from her, had photos posted with his family. "I'm very close to my family and it's always hard to find a mate that has similar relationships," she said.
Denise sent Chris a "smile" emotigram, and two days later he wrote back. After a few weeks, they decided there was enough of a common bond to get together. At the end of October 2011, they met up at Disney. "Our date lasted all day and we never ran out of things to talk about," she recalled.
Over the next year, Denise would find much more than Chris' smile drawing them closer together. She admired his honesty, his work ethic (he is a chef) and his involvement with his parish church. "He is a hard worker and takes pride in all he does," she said.
There was something much deeper for Denise to admire as well. She admired how Chris handled her as a cancer survivor. "I was diagnosed in 2003 and had a recurrence in 2010," she said. "When most young people were out looking for a mate, I was more concerned about staying healthy." Upon her first diagnosis, a boyfriend of five years left her, and Denise stayed out of new relationships.
Even after her recovery, Denise found dating difficult. "It can be hard because men either want to baby you or don't want anything to do with you," she said. "Chris treated me no differently, which made me really happy."
Chris had his own trials prior to meeting Denise, and while his health wasn't threatened, he went through a period of hard economic times. His was laid off as a chef, but as it turns out, that was the first step in the process that led him to Denise. Chris had been living in St. Louis, and after being unable to find new work there, he moved to Florida where his family was, setting the stage for what would happen in October 2012.
On the one-year anniversary of their first date, Chris--after securing the blessing from Denise's parents--brought her back to Disney. With her family lurking in hiding, he proposed marriage and Denise accepted. They went on to recreate their first date, including stops at Hollywood Studios and Epcot, something they plan to make an annual tradition.
Chris and Denise were married in June 2013. "We could not be happier," she said. "He is my soul mate."