A police officer was called to examine the woods outside of Tampa, Florida. The forestry was thick and muggy, yet Officer Daniel McDonald refused to give up on the quest. He was relentless in his search, scouring the entire area until he stumbled on a clue. And then he did. He found an unusual encampment in the woods. It was obviously a place where homeless people were living. Yet, Officer McDonald didn’t know anything about it. He drew his gun and his flashlight and approached the camp. “Hello. Anybody there?” he shouted. “I’m an Officer.” Then a harmless looking couple stumbled out of the mess. Officer McDonald couldn’t believe it. He lowered his gun and then walked up to the couple and proceeded to get to know them.
Evelyn Adams and her longtime partner, Rocky Barlett, had found a home in the dank Tampa, Florida woods. Despite the rabid mosquitoes and bugs, they managed to survive in their makeshift tent. But the circumstances that drove Adams and Barlett to this low were as tragic as they come.
After Adams’s son died in a car crash, her life fell apart. They had seen better days, but the worst of them all happened just three years ago. When the couple lost that child they lost hope for life. They simply didn’t care to go through the rat race and make bill payments and earn money. They slowly lost everything else they had – except each other. Together they went to set up their homeless refugee in the woods. It was all they needed because they had each other.
They hid in the Florida wilderness and shirked all society. But Officer McDonald found them and then started to get to know them. As he began to understand the circumstances that brought them to this low, he couldn’t help but empathize.
Then he learned the couple’s shocking secret. Adams and Barlett had been together for 22 years. But they had never married. They simply couldn’t afford the $93 fee that the state of Florida charges for people to get a marriage license.
This couple had been together despite sickness, loss, and struggle, yet they were not getting the legal and financial benefits of a married couple. This fact broke Officer McDonald’s heart. Obviously, they loved each other. They deserve to be wed.
He wanted to get the couple out of their ramshackle camp in the woods and into a home , where they could start to take steps to fix their lives.
And after McDonald, who is a homeless liaison with the police, started speaking to his colleagues about their situation, many people came forward offering help.
They donated money to help Evelyn Adams become Mrs. Barlett. This only happened six weeks after Officer McDonald found the living in squalor in the Tampa woods. And because of his help and the help of other Floridians, the couple was transformed and given a second chance to get back on their feet.
“People they’ve never met, who’ve never met them. We had a wedding venue contact me and they wanna host the wedding in Dover and it’s all inclusive,” McDonald told the local news. “They’re going to do everything. They’ve had an outpouring of support.”
Cross Creek Ranch hosted their wedding, which normally would have cost $20,000.
“This is a dream come true,” the newlywed Mrs. Barlett said. “No one has ever did this for me and Rocky.”
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