CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Most #MollysKids are babies, children or teenagers. But I heard about this amazing couple and feel compelled to shout them to the world.
Michelle Benson and J.D. Mayo are newlyweds. Two disabled young adults who found each other, fell in love and traveled alone on a honeymoon. They now live in Greensboro, but Michelle grew up in Cary. J.D. grew up in Wilkes County.
Michelle is 30 and J.D. is 36, but both said they'd love to be part of #MollysKids, knowing they can inspire lots of other kids by showing a positive example of overcoming obstacles.
Michelle has something called 22Q 11.2 deletion syndrome. Fancy name for DiGeorge Syndrome, which is a fancy term for a disorder that involves many different areas of the body and can vary greatly in severity. People with this condition are likely to have autoimmune issues and personality disorders.
Michelle's health issues aren't serious, but she struggles with emotional issues. She had a twin who died in infancy of serious health issues, which caused the in-depth study on Michelle.
J.D. is blessed with mental health. He, however, has serious heart and lung issues. He was born with tetralogy of the fallot with severe pulmonary atresia. He had three surgeries at Mayo Clinic in his childhood.
Those corrective repairs became inadequate in young adulthood and at the age of 25, he had an extremely serious repair at Brenner Children's Hospital. The surgery was extremely serious. It almost killed him, but ended up saving his life. That was followed up two years later with a lung stent at Duke Medical Center.
"For the first time in his life, he felt good," Mary Mayo, J.D.'s mom said. "I'd always parented him the same way I did my other children, made him meet the same expectations, even though he was weak. I made modifications for him, like a smaller vacuum cleaner for his chores, but I feel like how he was raised has helped him successfully transition to living independently."
J.D. and Michelle met through a medical support group based at Duke. They exchanged emails, got on social media and began writing each other, then eventually met for lunches. Michelle is a good driver, J.D. doesn't drive at all.
"Her driving skills and social media, really attributed to them being able to connect," Mary said. "They had an instant bond, discussing challenges they shared, a lifetime of medical visits and problems in school."
They got married on September 17th, 2017 in the Asheville area. Their honeymoon was the first time either of them had traveled without a parent. It took lots of advocacy in advance. They left the day after the wedding and went on a 4-day Carnival Cruise to Jamaica.
"It's touching to see them balance each other's strengths and weaknesses," Mary said. "J.D. is the most compassionate, loving person I know. He survived a lot of bullying and inadequacy in school to become a successful short film maker. He also works as a dishwasher in an Indian restaurant. I am so proud – so happy – that he is able to understand the depth of a loving adult relationship with Michelle. And I love how Michelle helps take care of him, while learning from him."
She paused, "I am one proud mom."
Now there's a story to start your week.