When I started working at Penn-Mar four years ago, I was assigned to be a one-on-one support person to a woman named Amanda Camacho, who has autism as well as some other diagnoses. My job was to provide Amanda with whatever she needed to help her process her emotions and grow her potential.
I would soon develop a deep relationship with this energetic, funny young woman who would redefine what it means to live life to the fullest.
Amanda has many passions, including her love of vintage cars and holidays.
She attends car shows and cherishes a photo she kept of herself crying out of sheer happiness while sitting in a vintage car with another staff member.
She is obsessed with holidays. On the Fourth of July Amanda is decked out in red-white-and-blue everything, accented with flashing lights and a sparkling headband.
She wears her Halloween costume for the entire month of October. But her all-time favorite holiday is Christmas, which she celebrates from November to January.
Outfitted in one of her many Christmas sweaters, Amanda decorates her Shrewsbury community home while listening to her Jingle Cats Christmas album, featuring cats meowing Christmas tunes.
But Amanda’s biggest passion is reserved for a man named Greg Holmes, a gentleman with Down’s syndrome whom she met at Penn-Mar’s Day Program. They started dating in April 2016. Their attraction for each other centered on their mutual joy for life. This was a true love match.
Amanda and Greg have helped each other become their best selves, learning and growing in so many ways. They were determined to take on the world together.
And that’s what they are doing.
On August 15 the couple had an unforgettable ceremony at Rocky Ridge Park. Amanda originally asked me to be her Flower Girl, but with COVID restrictions on the number of attendees at events, I became her Maid of Honor, a privilege that will always be the highlight of my career.
We made sure that Amanda and Greg had the total wedding experience, including creating a wedding registry and planning an outdoor Bridal Shower hosted by Amada’s mother with the help of Amanda’s housemate, Pamela Martz, who was thrilled to be part of the celebration. Amanda cried on my shoulder during the shower and told me that she couldn’t believe this was really happening. She was so happy.
I, too, cried like a baby. Amanda is not a physical person, not terribly expressive, which is why her reaction was so powerful.
Amanda’s mom was also overcome with emotion, saying she never imagined this whole experience was possible for her daughter. It was better than a dream come true.
Greg happily participated in the Shower and was joking about who would cry the most at the wedding (turned out it was him!).
And what made the planning and actual wedding day so amazing was not only the excitement experienced by Amanda and Greg but also that of all the individuals around them. Their friends and housemates with disabilities realized that loving relationships and marriage were possible for them, too.
On her wedding Day, Amanda wore make-up and nail polish, totally out of character. The glamourous bride chose a beautiful wedding gown and I had the privilege of helping her get ready.
And ready she was, one hour early, impatiently rocking on a front porch chair. She had no pre-wedding jitters whatsoever.
The groom cried when he finally saw his beautiful bride. Their getaway car was decorated to the hilt, and they departed amidst a shower of bubbles.
I was so proud of all Amanda had achieved in just four short years. And so honored to have been a part of this truly remarkable day.