The Winning Vow
How long would it take you to write wedding vows so beautiful, eloquent and heartfelt that you’d feel comfortable enough to enter them into a national E! Network online contest?
Surely, if you even mustered up the gumption to give it a try, you’d dwell on every word, rewrite every sentence a dozen times and, if you really wanted to take it seriously, you’d probably get all of your friends’ opinions on the draft version.
Megan Robinson Huwe did exactly the opposite.
Upon seeing a commercial for a contest that was pegged to the release of the February 2012 Rachel McAdams movie “The Vow,” Megan sat down, and in a few minutes, she wrote the vows she wanted to say to her fiancé, Peter Huwe, a former Shepherd Center patient who sustained a C-6 to -7 spinal cord injury in a diving accident in 2005.
In an excerpt from her vows, Megan wrote: “I always knew that one very lucky girl would steal your heart and get to spend her life with you. I just never thought that girl would be me… I have always said, what you lack physically, you make up for 100 times over in character, perseverance and kindness. You are exactly what I always prayed for in a husband… It is so comforting to know that I will have a husband who can handle all the curve balls life has to throw…Thank you for changing my life.”
That said, Megan put her entry into an envelope and mailed it, thinking nothing more about it or the $25,000 grand prize to be awarded to the contest winner.
“It was really easy,” Megan recalls, a bit embarrassingly. “It took me about 15 minutes to write exactly how I feel. I may have missed a thing here or there, but it got my point across.”
About a week after submitting her contest entry, the E! Network called Megan to say she was a finalist. Eventually, after nearly two weeks of voting, she heard from the network again.
“They called on Valentine’s Day to tell me we had won,” Megan says. “I was in shock. I called Peter, and he didn’t believe me. We’d come to terms with the fact that we hadn’t won that morning. We thought, while it would have been great to win, what meant most to us about the entire process was all of the love and support we received from our friends, our family and all of the people who rallied behind our story. Without that, the victory would not have been possible, and it made the win that much sweeter.”
Megan Robinson and former patient Peter Huwe married on June 30 in Mississippi. The E! Network paid for $25,000 of their wedding expenses after Megan wrote wedding vows that won her the grand prize in a national contest. Photo by Kellye Lewis
On June 30, the couple married in Mississippi, and E! Network picked up $25,000 of the tab. The prizes included Megan’s wedding dress and up to five bridesmaids dresses from Simone Carvalli, wedding bands from Parade, registry gifts from Bloomingdale’s and a honeymoon in Los Cabos.
But long before the contest, Peter and Megan both felt like they had won the spousal lottery.
Peter and Megan met in the chemistry department when they were students at Mississippi College. Paralyzed from the chest down, Peter was a little apprehensive about dating at first. But his wheelchair wasn’t the hindrance.
“We started out as friends,“ Peter says. “We’d go out for coffee, occasionally lunch. It wasn’t until after I graduated from college and moved up to Philadelphia and started grad school that we started a romantic relationship.”
What took him so long? “That was all her fault,” Peter says. “When I was in Mississippi, she was dating another guy. As soon as I found out they had split up, I escalated the relationship.”
Megan likes the idea of sounding diplomatic when speaking of that previous dating relationship. But now that she’s married, there’s no fooling anyone.
“From first time I met him, I knew some girl was going to be lucky, and secretly maybe I was hoping it would be me,” Megan says.
The two now gush over one another with world- class grace.
“She’s a catch, a very special girl,” Peter says. “She has the sweetest personality. When she broke up with her boyfriend, I know there were tons of guys who wanted to date her. I was the lucky one.”
Megan doesn’t see it that way, instead believing that she is the lucky one.
“He’s very handsome, smart and outgoing,” she says. “You just feel good when you are around him. I don’t know one person who doesn’t like him.
“We had a long talk about his injury before we started dating. He asked if it was something I could handle. Of course, I said yes. Now I think,
‘Who wouldn’t want to marry someone like Peter, someone who could handle what he’s handled and have such a great outlook on life?’”
Peter hasn’t regained any sensation and only a little motor function since leaving Shepherd Center seven years ago.
“My biceps work a little, and I have a little bit of finger extension,” he explains. “But I have no grip in my hands. There’s not much there.
“But really, once I decided for myself that it was OK, and I got back to putting myself out there as a confident person, it became easy,” he adds. “Other people are attracted to that.”
Megan certainly was. “I don’t really remember having thoughts about what it meant to be dating someone in a wheelchair,” she says. “I know this, it wasn’t the first thing I noticed about him. Not by a long shot.”
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.