Stephen and Challi are all smiles as they prepare to leave for their honeymoon from New Orleans.
‘No ordinary’ love story
Challi Romero Muguira and Stephen Anthony Muguira have an incredible love story or as Challi calls it, “A far from ordinary love.”
The pair met through a dating site. They were from two different towns in Louisiana. Long distance, usually being an issue for most new couples, came as a challenge to them. Not your typical challenge, though, but rather your ‘bring it on’ type of challenge.
Their friendship turned into love. Their love turned into pure adoration.
Challi says “It’s hard to meet people in a small town, especially when you’re disabled. People see a disability and run. I wanted someone to get to know me before I was judged on my looks.”
“You see I have a rare, moderate case of Progeria, which means I age faster than I should. Because of this, I do appear different. My birth defect is very visible.” Challi has had her share of surgeries, procedures and many invasive appointments in her life, including surgery on her jaw, which was not an option given to her, it was required.
In another town, an hour and a half away, there is Stephen, who has had his fair share of difficulties as well, suffering with Type 1 diabetes as well as aplastic anemia. Aplastic anemia acts as leukemia and diminishes the bone marrow. He has lost nearly all of his eyesight, went through many rounds of chemo and so much more. Stephen has since gained some of his eyesight back, thanks to a bone marrow transplant, but is still considered legally blind.
Challi recently decided to blog, in her blog, she describes that the best thing about her and Stephen’s relationship is their ‘ability to sympathize with each other’. “We have a special understanding
because we have both been through so much, because of this, it has made us stronger.”
Despite still being bullied about her appearance, Challi expresses how ‘it’s a miracle to still be alive. Doctors were never sure I’d make it to age 30.’ Fast forward to 2017, she and Stephen, or Tony, as she calls him, are now married, have two dogs, one cat and a beautiful life. Surrounded by friends and family and in a beautiful country setting, their lives were forever changed and two became one.
Challi says she has ‘no regrets’, but expresses that she ‘mostly feels sorry for her husband for having to adopt the reactions of people who don’t care for the way she looks’. “Sometimes, well, lots of times, I have to stop him from becoming too angry at people who make comments or give me looks, because I am used to it, he is not.”
Stephen, being legally blind, fell in love with her heart first. But in truth, deep down she knows he fell in love with HER. Her beauty, her heart, her laugh, her love and her ability to admire all of that about him as well.
Challi shares how their story is more complicated than it seems. “You see, immediately after we met, we wanted to see more of each other, more often. So for the next eight months, I would drive back and forth an hour and a half to make our relationship work.”
“By this time I knew I loved him, and with him being legally blind, I would soon have to make a critical decision; uproot the life I knew, or try to continue to make a long-distance relationship work? I decided to uproot my life, leave my parents, moved in with him, and hoped for a bright future. Soon after I moved in, he had gotten a job – any job he could take because no one wanted to hire a legally blind man. While I worked days, he worked mostly nights, and again, we’d rarely see each other. Somehow we made it work. By January of 2017, he was gone again.’
“His new adventure was going to an affiliated blind school. It is a state-run program where they teach the visually impaired to be independent enough to run their own business. The catch? The next four months he’d be living in a dorm 30 minutes from home and could only come home on weekends and holidays. I supported him the best way I could. Our whole relationship for a year and a half was long distance, yet we still made it work.”
“It didn’t take long for us to realize we were best friends” Challi says. ‘In March of 2017, he asked my father for my hand in marriage. In all my life, I never admitted my greatest fear to anyone, not even my loved ones. With having a moderate case of progeria and knowing I aged faster, I was terrified I would die alone with no one to share that special life with. On Nov. 18, 2017, we shared our vows in front of our loved ones and friends.”
So where are they today? Challi shares, “We are happy. We struggle with real life problems, and we stay strong through thick and thin. We don’t argue. We don’t yell or raise our voices. We rarely have disagreements. It’s not hard to admit that he is my soul mate and I feel as though we found each other for the sole purpose that we are destined to be together.”
‘My dad once told me that I was lucky. I had found the purest love of all, because Tony is legally blind, he fell in love with my heart and soul, rather than my looks. We truly live a fairy tale life. I found my prince.’
A friend says, “Their relationship is based on a solid foundation. A foundation built with love, respect, honor, and adoration. A foundation that is strong, a foundation that is being taken care of and molded into delicate clay, so that their foundation could grow with them.”