Grace Anne Alfiero
Updated: Apr 23
Tricia and Marshall at their wedding.
Tricia and her husband Marshall met in 2004 through Yahoo Personals. Tricia had just graduated from college and moved back in with her parents. Moving back home was not Tricia’s first choice, if you’ve been to college away from home, you know the last place you want to be after graduation is living with your parents!
Tricia scored an entry-level job with the local county government in Inverness, FL. It wasn’t her dream job, but it was employment. She still kept sending and posting her resume on employment sites in hopes of landing the job that she dreamed of while in college.
A few months in, Tricia got a call from Easter Seals. She was so excited and quickly set up an interview. The job was for a position in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. The director hired Tricia on the spot and she happily turned in her two weeks notice and made plans to move to the West Coast of Florida. During the two-week transition time Tricia began looking for friends online and attempting to set up a social life through virtual and statewide connections she had forged through the years.
Tricia remembers finding Marshall’s postings and she sent him a message but admits she had little or no expectations of ever being contacted back. She told me that she had been doing the online dating thing for many years with no great results, she hadn’t exactly given up, but she was feeling like reaching out to folks was more of a Hail Mary pass than a successfully proven method!
Much to Tricia’s surprise, the two started talking every evening and weekend. Tricia didn’t tell Marshall about her disability until about two weeks into their conversations. She wanted him to get to know her and her great personality first. Tricia states “the stigmas of disability are really bad, especially when dating, this was the only way I thought I had a chance.”
Once she moved to the area they had their first date. They went to the beach and to an upscale outdoor shopping mall called St. Armand’s Circle. Tricia thought the date went really well, but when they spoke on the phone on the Monday proceeding the date, Marshall tried to end the relationship.
Tricia was super upset and felt that she had a connection with Marshall, she made her feelings of disappointment and sadness known and Marshall agreed to give a second date a try. Their second date was at an Easter Seals fundraiser. Tricia had to work but was allowed to bring a guest. That second date also went really well. From then on, the two were inseparable and spent a lot of time with each other on the weekends!
Eventually the two moved in together. About three months later, the love birds talked about marriage. Marshall proposed to Tricia in July of 2004 and the two were married in March the next year. Tricia is often asked about how she knew that Marshall was the “one”, and she states “It just felt right, when you know, you know!”
Tricia’s family was thrilled and admitted to thinking that they never thought Tricia would ever get married due to her disability and physical challenges. Marshall’s parents were not so thrilled. Tricia distinctly remembers Marshall telling his mom over the phone and her response being “Awww Marsh, are you sure you want to do that?”
Understandably, Tricia was hurt by that reaction! However, about three years later her mother-in-law apologized and now credits Tricia with “saving Marshall.”
Tricia takes a moment to reply to my next question, I say, “Do you really feel you saved Marshall”? She pauses and states, “I honestly think we saved each other as most couples do. Marriage is an equal partnership and should be mutually beneficial.”
Love may not always conquer all, but it sure can go a long way to help topple down stereotypes and pre conceived judgments!