He Married a Woman Named Hope. That's Exactly What She Gives Him.
On the day doctors told Steve Dezember he had Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Dezember gave his girlfriend, Hope Cross, a way out. The progressive neurodegenerative disease that began as just a pain in his wrist threatened to take his life within three to five years.
“You don’t have to stay,” he said. “You can leave.”
Cross refused. “I loved him too much,” she told The Mighty. “I couldn’t imagine leaving him to go through this alone.”
Two days later, Dezember took Cross to their favorite spot in Johns Creek, Ga., and proposed.
“I felt like I had found such a selfless man,” Cross says now. “Here he was dealing with his own news and he was thinking about how to make our engagement special.” Soon after, they were married.
Dezember took part in a clinical trial two days after the wedding, but his symptoms soon worsened. Cross stood by as he lost the ability to walk, talk, breathe on his own and feed himself – today, he eats through an IV. Instead of hiring a nurse, Cross left her job as a psychotherapist and became her husband’s full-time caretaker.
“Steve’s never really acted like he’s sick,” Cross told The Mighty. “I think it’s what keeps him going.”
When the couple realized the powerful reaction their friends and family were having to their wedding video, they decided to make a short film about their life with ALS. They wanted people to know what the disease was, to become invested in finding a cure.
“It was going to be like a, ‘This is what ALS is,’ 15-minute video,” Cross said. “But it turned into much, much more.”
On June 1, 2014, “HOPE For Steve” (trailer above) premiered in Atlanta, Ga., in front of 700 people, including Dezember and Cross. The film is, of course, about ALS — but the couple’s love story overwhelms it.
“We obviously want to change the course of ALS for the future,” Cross told The Mighty. “But we also want to inspire people to pay more attention to their life, to realize there’s something to be grateful for each day, to take adventures, even if that just means spending more time outside.”
“When my mother was pregnant with me, my father left her,” Cross reveals. “When I was born and I was healthy, she thought, ‘OK, this is my hope to go on with my life.’ That’s how I got my name.”
h/t She Knows Love
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