They met this spring during a pick-up basketball game at the old fire station in uptown Hillsboro — he, a firefighter and paramedic with Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, and she, an urgent care staffer interested in becoming an EMT.
Michael and Kelly Sowards were married on Tuesday, standing beneath the same basketball hoop at the fire station where they first met.
The two, both of whom had prior marriages, began seeing each other during the summer when Kelly (formerly Kelly Zile-Cox), 35, was taking EMT courses and frequently visiting the station.
Paint Creek has since moved its Hillsboro headquarters to the fire station on North East Street, but the station on North High Street still holds sentimental value for the couple — especially after Michael, 29, proposed to Kelly there several weeks ago.
He took her by surprise, even though both of Kelly’s daughters knew Michael had bought the ring – and had informed her that he was going to propose.
“The youngest spilled the beans,” Michael joked.
“He ended up totally surprising me down there,” Kelly said. “The whole crew kind of helped him out, and they threw the whole proposal together… they had balloons and everything.”
On Sunday, Kelly told Michael she wanted to get married.
“I was sitting there Sunday night, and I just told him, ‘Let’s do a wedding,’” Kelly told The Times-Gazette. “He said, ‘Yeah, right.’”
The couple had planned to have a wedding around Christmas, but family and scheduling constraints made it difficult to coordinate, Michael said.
“She said, ‘Let’s just get married Tuesday, we don’t have anything to do,’” Michael said. “So she made her contacts then and there, and the planning was on.”
Paige Juillerat, a close friend of Kelly’s, coordinated the ceremony — and added a twist of her own.
When Paige heard about the couple’s wedding plans, she said her only response to Kelly was, “Wait. Do you have a dress? Wait. Does he have an outfit?”
The wedding was initially planned to be a simple function, but Paige, with the help of local photographer Emmy Jenkins, six wedding dresses from a local boutique, and a Chevy Tahoe full of decorations, “took what would have just been a special day, and made it an unforgettable experience for both of us,” Michael said.
“It was beautiful,” Kelly told The Times-Gazette. “I can hardly talk about it without getting choked up. It was amazing.”
Paint Creek Chief Dave Manning officiated the ceremony, and Paige sang as Kelly walked down the makeshift aisle.
“It was a pleasure to stand there, marry my best friend and start our lives together,” Michael said.
Kelly, now a volunteer EMT with Paint Creek, resides in Hillsboro with Michael, who continues full-time with Paint Creek, Kelly’s two daughters, and Michael’s son.
The couple has no plans for a honeymoon.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.