When Jason Velasquez first laid eyes on Mady Gosh inside a church in Oklahoma City, he knew there was something special about her. After courting her a while, the two developed a friendship.
"It was slow and steady," Velasquez remembers. Eventually the couple fell in love, got engaged and will be married at Disneyland in less than two weeks.
It was apparent the two were in love when they walked into Westmoore High School, the site of a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) set up to help people who were affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes. Gosh and Velasquez’s house was severely damaged, so they came to the MARC to see what was available to them. The Red Cross and dozens of other agencies welcomed them with open arms, offering emotional support, health services and other assistance.
The couple held hands tightly as they recounted their story. The moments after the tornado hit were some of the scariest—Velasquez remembers running past flattened houses, hoping to reunite with his bride. Miraculously, Gosh had left the house 15 minutes before the tornado touched down, and she had taken shelter with family a few miles away.
"I knew she was alive and safe," said Velasquez. "But we weren't able to get through on the phone, and I needed to see her and make sure she was okay. Seeing my house still standing and her in front of it was the happiest moment of my life, only second to me asking her to marry me."
Thankfully, the couple's dog Lindy survived the tornado in the garage. She is traumatized, but is recovering. In terms of their belongings, it was almost a total loss.
"Everything was gone, except a few special things," said Gosh.
In a strange twist of fate, Velasquez’s wedding band—tucked away in its case—hadn’t moved an inch, even though everything around it was damaged. Gosh’s wedding dress was safely at a dry cleaner’s far from the affected area. Instead of taking it to the cleaner’s in Moore as she normally would, for some reason she had gone out of her way to drop it off at another location. Lastly, a framed engagement photo of the couple was found still standing amid all the debris.
“It gives us hope," said Gosh. "If we can just get through the next two weeks, we'll have a blast at our wedding and life will go on. That's what I'm praying for."
There are many stories of hope in Oklahoma. Thanks to the support of the American public, people like Velasquez and Gosh are getting the immediate help they need so they can begin to recover.
You can help people affected by disasters like tornadoes, floods and other crises by making a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.