Dakota and Andrew
October 18, 2016
Dakota and Andrew
It has been some time since I got around to posting on this blog, I have been on a much needed break most of this year which I have been enjoying immensely but an occasion has occurred that has brought me out of my self-imposed interruption. Our dear friend Dakota, who has become something like family since we first met her, celebrated her wedding to her fiancée Andrew, a handsome Captain in the United States Air Force. It was an exciting day for Kathy and I and all of the couple’s family and friends and we were thrilled to be included in their special moment.
Dakota first came to our acquaintance when Kathy volunteered to serve as a Mentor for Monroe County’s Take Stock in Children program. This wonderful program matches young students, who might otherwise not be able to attend college with a Mentor who meets with the student once a week throughout their middle school and high school years. If the student stays out of trouble, maintains decent grades and graduates from High School, they are awarded a full scholarship to any state school in Florida. It is an amazing program that we have wholeheartedly supported and Dakota was the first Mentee assigned to Kathy when Dakota was in seventh grade.
Kathy could not have asked for a better Mentee as Dakota not only fulfilled the requirements of the program over the next six years, but excelled in every aspect of her scholastic obligations. Kathy and Dakota naturally became very close through this process, which I had very little to do with during that time, but once Dakota graduated from Key West High School, she became less of a Mentee and more of a friend to both Kathy and I. She attended the University of Florida in Gainesville and Kathy and I would often stop by during our travels to visit her.
Soon we were including Dakota in our travels, taking her to places like Disney World, to various concerts and other fun excursions all the while watching as she continued to excel in her academic career. It was a proud moment for both of us when she graduated from UF and we joined her family in celebrating the day in Gainesville. She immediately proceeded to attack graduate school with the same determination, studying to become a teacher and soon she was student teaching at a local school. She continued to visit us frequently and often joined us on various trips including a memorable trip she took with Kathy rafting through the Grand Canyon.
For my part, I introduced Dakota to my favorite annual event, the Indianapolis 500, which she attended each year with us for a number of years. It was these trips that played a small role in her first meeting with Andrew. Andrew and some friends were traveling to attend the Daytona 500 and smartly decided to visit the college town of Gainesville prior to the race. There they ran in to Dakota and her friend Olivia who were out having a drink and fate was sealed. As Olivia so wonderfully told the tale of that evening in her toast at the wedding, Dakota and Andrew spent much of the evening talking about racing. Though Olivia eventually dragged Dakota away to get some Tacos, the die was cast and Andrew’s phone number on a napkin was to become a prized memento of the fateful evening.
Dakota called me the next day to thank me for having taken her so often to the Indy 500 as she said it gave her some credibility with Andrew, who she was obviously taken with from the first moment. This past May, Kathy and I had the pleasure and privilege of taking both her and Andrew to attend the 100th running of the Indy 500. It was such an absolute pleasure to get to know Andrew and to see for ourselves what a great choice they each made in the decision to spend their lives together.
The wedding was held in the beautiful town of Jericho, Vermont and Kathy and I stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast called the Sinclair Inn just up the street from where the wedding took place. I had never spent any quality time in Vermont and was entranced at just how beautiful and interesting it is. They could not have planned the wedding date any better as the Fall foliage was at its absolute peak and stunning vistas were literally around every corner. Kathy and I took full advantage of visiting the area when wedding festivities were not taking place. We picked apples in Essex Junction, visited the nearby city of Burlington where we visited some of the many craft breweries including Magic Hat, Foam Brewing and the Vermont Pub and Brewery which were all great.
Mavis and Kathy
Madison and Dakota
We also made the trip to the Alchemist Brewery to wait in line to get the rare and highly sought after Heady Topper beer, which is consistently rated among the top beers in the US and only available in Vermont in limited quantities. We visited the beautiful small ski town of Stowe, went to the Von Trapp family lodge and brewery as well, which is still run by members of the famous Von Trapp family from the “Sound of Music” fame, and went hiking through the beautiful Smuggler’s Notch State Park, enjoying the perfect Fall weather and foliage.
As wonderful as all of that was, it was the wedding that we were there to see and it did not disappoint. Andrew’s sister Jess, hosted a magical rehearsal dinner in her beautifully restored old barn. It was just a pleasure to re-unite with Dakota’s family, seeing her parents, sister Madison and her husband, Grandma Mavis and Grandpap, all of whom we had had the pleasure of meeting previously. We also were thrilled to get to meet Andrew’s wonderful family who to a person were warm and welcoming and perfect hosts. It is just a wonderful group of people and we could not be happier that Dakota is joining such a great family
Olivia and Justin
The wedding itself was just about perfect, beautiful weather, perfect setting, brilliant Fall backdrop and a lovely group of family and friends to share the moment. There is nothing that really makes one happier than to see someone that you love find true happiness and that is what Kathy and I felt. It was one of those very rare occasions that actually brought tears to my eyes as we watched with such great pride and delight as the vows were exchanged. Dakota is a very special young woman and to think that Kathy and I had even the tiniest role in helping her become the person she is, is just pretty damn cool. We wish them nothing but the very best as they move on to this exciting new phase of their lives. Thanks so much to Dakota and Andrew and each of their families for including us in this truly special day.