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Local sweethearts vie for dream wedding

Cougar votes could win Miss Black Texas Andrea Hill her dream wedding, courtesy of Essence magazine.

‘Until the end of my days, I vow to give you my undying love,’ Rashad Sanders said in the proposal note to Hill.

Sanders said he would like to start off his marriage by giving Hill the wedding of her dreams.

Hill, program coordinator for the youth and sports club at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, and Sanders are one of five couples who are participants in Essence magazine’s Will You Marry Me? contest. The couple with the most votes will win $50,000 toward their wedding costs.

‘It’s time for some joy and excitement,’ Sanders said, who believes he and Hill deserve to win after struggling through difficult times and emerging stronger than ever.

‘Drea’ and ‘Shoddy,’ as they call one another, were introduced through a client of Sanders, and because of jobs in different locations they got to know each other through phone calls and e-mails.’ Sanders said their relationship grew as they realized they shared many of the same goals and beliefs.

For their first date, they went to an Atlanta Braves baseball game. Sanders, a fitness enthusiast, also planned a hiking trip to Red Top Mountain, only to find out Hill didn’t bring any tennis shoes. Their second date ended up a tennis shoe expedition. Sanders said Hill’s ‘girlie-girl’ ways are one of the things he loves about her along with her eyes and her smile.

Sanders realized he wanted to marry Hill when, following the death of his father, she rearranged her schedule and flew over to be with him.

‘She supported me like no one had ever before,’ he said.

Tragedy struck the couple again when they faced the death of Hill’s father.’ Sanders said he is sad his future father-in-law will not be present to witness the wedding, but made sure he would play an integral part in it.

Hours before his father-in-law’s brain surgery, Sanders spoke to Hill and asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

‘I thanked him for being a great father and told him I wanted to emulate the love that he’s shown to his daughter,’ Sanders said.’ ‘He was happy and excited.”

Four days later Hill passed away.’ Sanders said he would not have gone through with the proposal had he not gotten the blessing of his father-in-law.

Sanders said he chose to participate in the contest in hopes of not only giving his fiancee a beautiful wedding, but also for the memorable experience and a for a great story to tell their children and grandchildren about.

Hill’s acceptance note read, ‘Not only was your proposal heartfelt, it was also truly phenomenal.’ I am the happiest woman in the world and with every fiber of my being, I say yes.’ Yes, I will marry you!’

‘Whatever she wants, she gets,’ Sanders said, adding that he has set the bar high’ for himself because of the proposal and will have to work hard and be creative when it comes to Valentine’s Day and future celebrations.

Thanks to his co-workers, Sanders said he has some pretty exciting plans for Valentine’s weekend and is forever grateful for the support they have shown him since his time at UH.

Essence will reveal the winning couple on Friday during a pre-Valentine’s Day special on ABC-TV’s ‘Good Morning America’. Voters can cast their votes between the four contesting couples until Thursday at where couple biographies and taped proposals are available.

‘My co-workers have been great!’ I’ve noticed that people here support and celebrate with each other whenever they have accomplishments,’ Sanders said.’ ‘ ‘UH getting involved and voting would show that we come together as one to support our own.’

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