Disabled man and able-bodied girlfriend want to show their love to the world
A disabled man who uses a wheelchair and his able-bodied girlfriend have documented their relationship in inspirational videos to help break the stigma of those with disabilities, Daily Mail reported.
Shane Burcaw, 26, from Pennsylvania was born with a neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), and he has used a wheelchair since the age of two. Three years ago, he received a message from his now-girlfriend Hannah Aylward, 23, after she watched a documentary that Rainn Wilson, who played Dwight from The Office, produced about Shane's life.
The couple's relationship has since grown where they now run a YouTube account entitled Squirmy and Grubs to better educate people about their interabled relationship.
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Hannah, who's currently a senior at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, never mentioned Shane's disability when she first emailed him three years ago while he was living in Pennsylvania.
In the email, she complimented Shane, who writes books and attends talks about his disability, on his sense of humor and his writing before admitting she thought he was very cute.
'I knew right away that I needed to know this person,' Shane said.
'I’ll never forget the way my heart felt so light and beat so rapidly as I willed my atrophied fingers to type out a response as quickly as they could manage.'
The relationship blossomed to include long FaceTime calls and text messages until both realized they were very much in love with each other.
Hannah visited Shane first in Pennsylvania where they spent four days getting to know one another. Both then realized they wanted to make a long distance relationship work.
In 2018, the couple moved in together in an apartment in Minneapolis, Minnesota, so Hannah could finish up her final years at her university.
Moving in together led them to creating vlogs for YouTube as a way to better inform the public about their relationship.
'Our goal is to normalize disability and relationships like ours,' Shane said. The vlogs officially started six months ago and their account now has more than 120,000 subscribers.
Creating the vlogs became a way for the couple to strike down false perceptions they often encounter when going out together.
'When Hannah and I are out in public together, strangers routinely assume that we are siblings, or that she is my paid caregiver, or even worse, my mom,' Shane explained.
'Because of my disability and my wheelchair, people have a hard time seeing us as boyfriend and girlfriend.
'There are a variety of damaging stigmas surrounding disability, but one of the most pervasive ideas is that people with a disability are incapable or unworthy of romantic relationships.'
Their first vlog introduced the couple to the public and included snuggles on the couch, jokes about Shane's time management skills, doing household chores, and a road trip to Pennsylvania.
The couple has also sat down to film a few Q&A videos for their followers, with Hannah insisting that she doesn't ever feel as though she is 'trapped' as a caregiver, and with both of them speaking candidly about having a fulfilling physical relationship.
Although both admit that they are hesitant to answer what they describe as 'creepy' questions about the more intimate aspects of their relationship, they have spoken previously about their desire to have children together, with Shane explaining in an old post on his blog that he is 'perfectly capable of having sex'.
'I get boners and my boners shoot sperm, so having kids is a real option,' he wrote at the time.
Commenters on the first video praised the couple for working to break down ideas about disabilities by showing the realities of their relatinship.
'I also have SMA and seeing that an actual relationship is possible warms my heart,' a top commenter wrote.
But that doesn't stop others from feeling the need to question and theorize why the two people might be together because of Shane's disability.
'Every time we post a new episode on our vlog, people inevitably comment with theories as to why on earth we are dating,' Shane said.
One person commented saying Shane seemed like a 'good dude' but that Hannah had to obviously just be his caretaker otherwise 'she's got a couple screws loose'.
While another commenter has called the relationship 'abnormal and frankly disguisting'.
Negative comments have not stopped the couple from posting multiple videos per week to better inform people how interabled relationships work.
Via Daily Mail
My view: They're beautiful couple, so happy together. Hannah is very pretty, she's a real humanitarian and a real human being and kind-hearted, unlike Saint Meghan Markle, who claims to be a humanitarian, but can't forgive her own father, clearly a hard-hearted woman. We really do need to hear more stories about real gorgeous people.