Having Down syndrome hasn’t stopped Florida high school couple David Matthew Cowan, 19 and Saris Marie Garcia, 18, from having the life and experiences they want. For David, that’s meant playing on the football team at Seminole High School. For Saris, it’s meant cheering for her nearby Lake Brantley High School football team and modeling in fashion shows.
And now both are heading to David’s homecoming dance together, following a sweet and splashy proposal that’s gone viral.
In honor of the pair attending their first high school homecoming dance this year, David wanted to do something special for his longtime girlfriend. So, he decided to surprise her in front of her entire school at a football game, where she would be cheering on the sidelines.
“He was so excited and dancing in the bleachers, saying, ‘Shhh, its a surprise! I am asking her to Homecoming!’” Wanda Cruz, Saris’s mom, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
In the video, which captured the heartwarming moment, David is seen approaching Saris and her cheering squad while holding a sign, a bouquet of flowers and balloons. When Saris sees him, she drops her red and blue pompoms in shock and walks over to her boyfriend, who hands her the handmade sign, decorated with yellow sunflowers and bearing the question, ”Will you be my sunshine to homecoming?”
When Saris replies yes to his homecoming invitation, David jumps back up and lifts his arms up in victory, prompting cheers from the crowd.
“She was radiant! She said many times, ‘I can’t believe it!’” Cruz recalls of the emotional moment. “Everyone was so touched by their reaction. They were both so happy.”
The people in the crowd weren’t the only ones touched by the sweet homecoming ask. Millions of people online are also now cheering on the teens after Saris posted the touching video on social media. It quickly went viral, garnering 3 million video views on Facebook alone.
“The genuine joy that comes from them is contagious! I hope they have a great time,” one Facebook user wrote.
Perhaps even more precious than David’s sweet homecoming ask is the story behind their relationship.
David and Saris first met at the age of 3, when they attended the same speech therapy clinic in Orlando. David and his family later moved away to Pembroke Pines, and the families did not keep in touch. However, when Saris and her family moved to a nearby city, the pair were unexpectedly reunited at the same private school.
“Without us knowing, the kids were in the same private school, Marian Center in Opalocka, Florida. We realized it around October, 2004,” Cruz tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Since then, the families have remained friends, with both moving back to Central Florida. Garcia and Cowan began spending more time together at their weekly practices for Special Olympics Seminole County. And eventually, Cruz says, their “friendship and relationship just blossomed,” and they began dating at around 14 and 15.
“As they got older their relationship grew, and that’s when they expressed their feelings and show how much they care for each other,” says Cruz.
On Sept. 28, David and Garcia attended the Seminole High School homecoming dressed in navy blue outfits and white corsages. At the dance, the Seminole High principal recognized David and Saris as a special couple of the night.
“Kids went crazy cheering for them,” says Cruz. “David is loved by everyone at Seminole High.”
While Cruz and Marilyn never expected their children to go viral, they hope people take away at the David and Saris are just like any couple with “real love and real connection.”
“Down syndrome does not limit them,” says Cruz. “We want people to know that they are just like other couples and fall in love and wish to have a fulfilling life.”
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