SALT LAKE CITY – Some people we meet in the news business leave a lasting impression, and sometimes his or her story gets better with time. Such is the case with a young man named Gideon DiMeglio.
We came to know about him through his parents before he was born, and when that happened KSL TV News was there.
There have been some remarkable milestones for this Utah boy over the years, and we captured them. Gideon is now 24 and getting married, and we share in his joy.
Gideon has always loved to draw.
"I honestly don’t think I could have asked for having better professors in my life that have been able to speak to me and tell me 'you really do have talent here,'" he said.
A portrait of Brittani is his favorite. She is his fiancée.
To help you understand this love story, we have to go back to the beginning.
The early years
Gideon David DiMeglio came into the world on September 20, 1994. Our former colleague, Steve Eagar, reported the first stories with his parents, Mark and Sarah DiMeglio. At the time, Sarah was pregnant with their fourth child. They had learned, after an ultrasound, that their son would be born without arms and with feet connected to very short legs.
As people of faith, born-again Christians, they were determined to raise him surrounded by love, as they had their other children.
By his first birthday, he was a strong, healthy baby with a mass of dark curls. At age 4, Gideon and his parents were meeting weekly with physical therapists at Shriner’s Hospital for Children.
He loved doing "wheelies" in his chair in the parking lot.
That’s where he first fell in love with art. At that time, he tried mechanical arms and drew the creatures so many young children are fascinated by – dinosaurs.
Gideon was very talkative and rather fascinated by our camera. He announced to his parents and therapists, "I’m gonna be on the TV, guys!"
It was that day that Sarah made the statement that has defined their lives.
"I’ve encouraged him to be that way, to take life on with the challenges. They’re not troubles, they’re challenges and we can conquer challenges," she said.
That was Gideon’s challenge to his classmates on the playground in third grade in 2004. He was soccer team captain at recess. In the classroom, he was in the accelerated program.
"I write cursive now, finally. I’m probably better in cursive than in print," he said.
Art was still what he loved to do.
"Nothing else but draw. Just draw. That’s my mind in free time!" he said.
Just a few weeks ago, I had a sweet reunion with Mark, Sarah and Gideon, who introduced me to Brittani. Their mothers are lifelong friends, so Gideon and Brittani’s families have always spend time together.
I asked her, "Do you remember your first memory of Gideon?"
"No," she said. "No, he was just always around."
"When did, may I ask, the romance enter into the relationship?" I asked him.
"That’s a question for Brittani," Gideon told me. "She’s the one who liked me first!"
Gideon and Brittani’s older brother, Cameron, were best friends.
“I had a little crush on Gideon when I was little, like ongoing, off and on. I was just always the annoying little sister,” she admitted.
That friendship eventually turned to love.
Their engagement on April 22, was quite the production. Gideon arranged for a four-camera shoot, and 22 family and friends each gave Brittani a rose.
As he proposed, everyone sang the Elvis Presley hit, "Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you."
"Brittani Jo Salazar, I love you way more than you’ll ever know," he told her. "I want to know if you’ll give me the tremendous honor of marrying me?"
She said yes.
He gave her the ring, they kissed, and the crowded cheered.
"I just started crying as soon as I walked in the door, basically," Brittani confessed.
I said to Gideon, "I did not know you were the romantic."
"I didn’t know it either!" he said.
Their engagement was not a surprise to many who know them.
"When I told another old friend from our Church, that kind of grew up with everybody, she said, 'Oh, I wasn’t surprised at all. I can remember Brittani, when she was in Kindergarten, saying she was going to marry Gideon someday,'" said Sarah.
Brittani shared a sweet story.
"In 9th grade, I think it was … we had to write a paper about someone who we know who had a disability, and I was like, 'I can’t think of anyone.' And my brother said, 'What about Gideon?' And I said, 'He doesn’t have a disability.' It just came out because it was just normal to me," she said.
Christy Salazar, Brittani’s mother, said, "Brittani doesn’t see differences in people. It’s been that way, just from the get-go."
Looking to the future
Gideon continues to express himself through his art. He had thought he would be a professional but now has decided on psychology.
"I led a youth group and helped out in youth group for years and years at K2 The Church. I have a real heart for teenagers and working with teenagers," he said.
Gideon’s parents taught him to address difficulties. They see Gideon and Brittani doing the same.
Mark DiMeglio has observed the young couple making plans.
"They are real about things that need to be talked out and addressed and figured out, and they’ve talked about these things. That’s impressive," he said.
“There’s nothing that makes a parent happier than seeing your child pick a good spouse and to follow God’s leading in their life and know that they’re sensitive to that," said Sarah.
"Above all, I would say, none of this is possible without God’s hand in it. By His Grace am I able to do any of these things," he said.
Christy’s father married Sarah and Mark, Gideon’s parents, and will now do the same for Brittani and Gideon. Faith, they say, brought them together and keeps them united.
"It’s a lot of prayer and a lot of watching them through the three years they’ve been together and just making sure,” said Christy. "They know what they’re doing and we’re convinced."
Danny Salazar, Brittani’s father, added, "We believe everything happens for the right reasons, according to His purpose, and so we’re leaping in with faith that God will provide when needed."
Gideon counts himself blessed to be surrounded by two wonderful families who have always been there for him.
"Just having people around you that love and support you. When you run into obstacles, don’t be afraid to ask for help," Gideon said. "Everybody needs help. You can’t do it alone."
Gideon and Brittani are planning to be married in March 2019 – and, yes, we are invited to the wedding!