Watch the video of their sweet story in the video below.
Video credit: TODAY
A New York couple with Down’s Syndrome is the living embodiment of the saying that love overcomes all. Down’s Syndrome is a debilitating condition that can even affect basic functions in daily life. Yet this couple did not let their disability get in the way of their love.
Kris Scharoun-DeForge, 58, and Paul Scharoun-DeForge, 54, were born with the condition yet they have defied all odds. According to Reader’s Digest, they are believed to be the longest married couple with Down’s Syndrome.
The two got married 25 years ago but time has not dulled their love for each other.The way Kris speaks about her husband is evidence of how much she loves him. She recalled falling in love with Paul the first time they met at a dance 30 years ago. Kris said, “I looked into his eyes and saw my future.
” The next moment she added, “He opened up my world.” The whole time she was talking, she had her arm resting on Paul’s. They were so committed to each other that they even joined both their last names into one after they got married.
One thing the couple has diligently done year after year is celebrating Valentine’s Day. There always needs to be something special done that day and they have followed this routine like clockwork for many, many years.
Kris loves paper craft so on V-Day, she would create an elaborate card and wait for Paul when he came home from work. They would go out and eat even if Kris is an excellent cook. They would sometimes eat at Olive Garden or Red Lobster or even someplace as simple as Subway.
Valentine’s Day of 2018 was extra special because it marked their 25th year together as husband and wife. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary a few months later on August 13.
A lot of people believed that persons with Down’s “didn’t have the emotional maturity to be married.” Yet Kris always kept faith in a prince charming. When she was little, she even cut out wedding photos from magazines to hang them on her wall.
Yet there they were, married for 25 years and going strong against all expectations.But it didn’t come without struggle and pain. Last year’s Valentine’s Day was also the first time they were not together because Paul has been dealing with early-stage dementia, a common development among those with Down’s Syndrome.
This had also forced Paul to move into a community residence where round-the-clock nursing care was available as the couple decided that their home was not equipped to handle someone with such a condition.
Kris said, “When they told me, I started to cry. He’s my life. I don’t want to be without him.”
But the couple did not make it through life alone. They had the loving support of both their families the whole time. They also said that the couple deserves the right to make the same decisions as any other couple would make when one partner is dealing with dementia. Susan Scharoun, Kris’s sister, said, “They should define their own lives. They know what is good for them.”
Fortunately, Paul is a fighter, said his mother Lorraine DeForge.She said that with the help of his seven brothers and sisters, Paul mastered the bus service in Syracuse.
He also worked at the Arc of Onondaga’s vocational division for many years.The nationwide organization works as an advocate for the developmentally disabled. And in 2013, this local chapter of the Arc named Paul as Person of the Year for his work ethic, community service, and good cheer.
Paul achieved all this despite his mother being told by the doctor “not expect much” when he was born. But here he was living a successful life that included a marriage that has weathered the years.
Kris also had her own struggles. She spent one year in a state institution as a child when her father died young and her mother became ill. “It was hard,” she said, remembering the sense of isolation. But Kris never gave up hope. Kris had visited Paul regularly and even spent weekends together at Scharoun’s house. “They have unconditional love. They totally complement each other,” said Schroun.
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