What started out as a routine coronavirus vaccine appointment turned into a memorable marriage proposal for two frontline health care workers.
Paramedic Robby Vargas-Cortes, 31 and his boyfriend of five years Eric Vander-Lee, 26, have both been helping to take care of Covid patients since the pandemic began.
So when Robby, from Canton South Dakota, visited Eric’s clinic to receive his highly-anticipated Covid vaccine, he had a much-needed surprise up his sleeve, quite literally, to make his boyfriend smile.
As Robby rolled up his sleeve ready for Eric to administer his vaccine, Eric was stunned to find an engagement ring taped to his partner’s arm where the jab is supposed to go.
Robby said: ‘I planned in for a week in advance, I thought it’d be a really memorable thing for us.
‘I wanted it to mark us turning over a new leaf after a bad year.
‘There were only two nurses doing the vaccinations so I made sure to jump in Eric’s line. I asked one of my co-workers to film it, but they were the only other person who knew.’
Eric added: ‘He rolled up his sleeve and I saw the tape on his arm. I thought he was just making a joke about where I need put the needle.
‘But then I saw the outline of the ring and it hit me.
‘I wanted to crawl under a rock to be honest because I hate attention, but I was so surprised and so happy.
‘It means we can start a new chapter in our life. Even though we have a pandemic going on, this shows that love does not go away.’
Video footage of the moment Robby proposes to Eric shows him remove the ring from his arm and ask Eric to marry him before the pair share an emotional embrace.
But they couldn’t revel in their happiness together for long as Robby had to rush off to respond to a 911 call 10 minutes after receiving his Covid vaccine.
Both Robby and Eric – who received his vaccination in December – have been on the frontline of the pandemic for several months. Eric began volunteering to administer Covid-19 vaccines last month at Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center in South Dakota.
Eric sadly lost his grandfather to coronavirus last year and said he hopes his and Robby’s story can provide ‘hope’ to other people who have experience loss over the last 12 months.
Eric, who said he and Robby plan to get married in 2022, added: ‘I will cherish this moment for the rest of my life.
‘I hope it will give other people hope, too, and make people smile. It would feel great if we can make a difference to people’s lives with our story.’
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