Paving the way for a life together
Couple overcomes some obstacles on a long walk to happiness.
Alex and Raegen pose for a photo with President Michael V. Drake at the Night on the Oval celebration that concluded the successful But for Ohio State Campaign.
The brick appeared in August. She must have run past it a dozen times without noticing. It sat there underfoot outside Ohio Stadium’s Gate 35, a rust-colored paver bearing a simple question from a smitten man.
“RAEGEN,” it said, “WILL YOU MARRY ME? — ALEX”
“It was definitely a risk,” said Alex Szablewski, 23.
Not the proposal. Raegen Vickers, 21, was equally smitten. She was going to say yes. But Szablewski had a plan — beginning with that brick — that could have been thwarted every step of the way.
And almost was.
“It was coming down to the wire,” he said.
Szablewski and Vickers attended the same high school in Perrysburg, Ohio, but they didn’t really connect until they were students at Ohio State. They began dating in 2014, and declarations of love quickly followed.
“Probably about a year in, it really hit me that this is my guy,” Vickers said.
Szablewski graduated in 2015 and moved to Colorado Springs for a job with the U.S. Olympic Committee. The two talked about marriage. Vickers is slated to graduate in 2017, and Szablewski figured that if their relationship could survive a year of long distance, it was time to make a leap.
He ordered the brick in the spring through a $150 donation to the Ohio Stadium brick program. Nearly two months after it was installed, he flew back to Columbus and waited for Vickers to emerge from class.
It wasn’t just raining that September day. It was pouring.
Szablewski had planned to escort Vickers through the length of the Oval, taking the famed Long Walk that, according to university lore, leads to enduring love. He had even recruited 30 or so of her Gamma Phi Beta sorority sisters to block the walkways so no one would cross their path and curse their union.
But he hadn’t planned for the miserable weather — or for the massive tent that had popped up on the Oval to house that night’s celebration of the successful But for Ohio State Campaign.
“It was literally from one side of the Oval to the other,” Szablewski said.
Everything was going wrong.
Until it wasn’t.
The skies cleared. And celebration organizers arranged for the pair to pass through the tent.
The two completed the Long Walk and kept strolling to the stadium, where Szablewski frantically began scanning the ground, panicked that they had passed the brick.
But there it was. He was seeing it for the first time. And then so was she. He got down on one knee and fumbled with the ring.
She said yes three times.
From then on, nothing could go wrong.