Here's a homecoming proposal that could make anyone smile: David Matthew Cowan, 19, decided he wanted to ask his long-time girlfriend Saris Marie Garcia, 18, to his senior homecoming dance at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida, and he wanted to do it in a special way. The result has the entire internet swooning.
David Matthew and Saris Marie, both of whom happen to have Down syndrome, met when they were just 3 years old in the lobby of their speech therapists' office. Though both moved a few times, they ended up back in the same city in Central Florida and have been attending neighboring high schools and spending time together as Special Olympics athletes and with their families, who have grown close over the years.
Their parents aren't even sure when the two began dating. Wanda Cruz, Saris marie's mother, told TODAY Parents the two have been inseparable since they were in elementary school. "Their relationship just blossomed over the years," Cruz said.
For his last big homecoming dance, David Matthew wanted to ask Saris Marie to be his date the way he has seen his classmates do it. His 16-year-old sister, Sophia, took him to buy supplies and together they made a poster and decorated it using the term of endearment he uses for Saris Marie: "WILL YOU BE MY SUNSHINE TO HOMECOMING?"
With the help of Saris Marie's cheerleading coach and her squad from Lake Brantley High School, the Cowans surprised her at a JV football game. David Matthew arrived with the poster and a bouquet of sunflowers. She happily accepted. Since then, the video of the proposal has gone viral. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady even tweeted it, much to the delight of the couple's families.
David Matthew and Saris Marie attended the dance with their official chaperones, sister Sophia and her date, Greg Fonseca. Seminole High School principal Jordan Rodriguez brought them up on stage, noting that although they had already introduced their official homecoming court, David Matthew and Saris Marie were "very, very special guests" who are now known "all over the country." The video of the moment made the couple's moms cry "happy tears," they said.
For their families, this moment represents true inclusion for their children — something they have hoped and worked for their entire lives, Cruz said.
"To see and hear the students at Seminole High cheering for them was so amazing. All we have ever wanted is for the kids to make friends and reach their own goals and dreams," Cruz said. "We are so grateful to see their schools welcome them with open arms and to see how much they care for them."
"I am incredibly proud of how our campus has embraced David," Seminole High principal Rodriguez told TODAY Parents. "He is a rock star at Seminole High School. Our faculty, staff, and student body treat him like family. The inclusion our students show David is truly something special."
David Matthew told TODAY Parents he is "really happy" and had a good time at homecoming. He plans to attend the University of Central Florida next year in the footsteps of his friend and former schoolmate, UCF sophomore wide receiver Gabe Davis, who took a special interest in David Matthew in high school and often ate lunch with him.
UCF has a special inclusion program for students with intellectual disabilities that enables people like David Matthew to attain dreams like going to college with their classmates.
Saris Marie, who is currently a high school junior, is also a model. She has attended Fashion Week and currently has over 15,000 followers on Instagram.
"They wish for more," said Cruz. "They have hopes and dreams just like any couple, and we want to help them make it work. They deserve a happy life together."