Carli Hamilton had just about given up on the possibility of finding true love. After all, she wasn’t like most other women. She was born with a condition called spinal muscular atrophy, which left her bound to a wheelchair. She wasn’t entirely sure what kind of life she would have as she got older. But eventually, she learned that accepting her condition and loving herself were two very important things. It was too bad that she didn’t feel the same way when it came to finding love with someone else. She simply wasn’t convinced that there was a nice guy out there who would be kind enough to look after her. Then she met Jared Hamilton, who helped cast all of her doubts aside.

Carli Lynne Hamilton / Facebook

“I was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. My parents were told that I

wouldn’t live to see my fifth birthday. The doctors were constantly

putting an expiration date on my life. I grew up not knowing how much

longer I had or what quality of life I would have. Although my future

was unknown, I wanted to make sure I lived my life to the absolute

fullest. I was always known as ‘the girl in a wheelchair’ and when I

was younger I hated it. As I got older, it set me apart from the rest

of the crowd. I learned how to love myself and love my wheelchair. I

learned to love the attention it gave me, although I still got the

negative attention of being in a wheelchair. I would date, and guys

would tell me they couldn’t see a future with me because, the fact of

the matter is, my disability is life threatening. I don’t know if I

can have children, how long I will live, or what my quality of life

will be in 5+ years. And although I had learned how to deal with the

unknown, guys didn’t know how to deal with that."

Carli Lynne Hamilton / Facebook

"I had given up on dating. I had accepted the fact that this ‘girl in

a wheelchair’ would forever be single. I graduated college my best

friend and I moved to California. We had only been there a few weeks

and we attended a new church, and right after church ended, this guy

came up to me and immediately started talking to me. He asked me

questions like, ‘Are you new? Where are you from?,’ and other normal

things. I kept waiting for the infamous, ‘So why are you in a

wheelchair?,’ but it never came. I can honestly tell you that he was

the first guy to ever come up to me, hit on me, and NOT ask why I was

in a wheelchair. You see, another statement I have heard far too many

times in my life is, ‘You’re too pretty to be in a wheelchair.’ As if

being in a wheelchair had a certain look or something. But like I

said, this guy never asked or said anything about me being in a

wheelchair. In fact, he didn’t even seem to notice."

Ariele Chapman Photography

"I wish I could say that after that moment it was love at first sight,

but it didn’t quit start that way, at least not for both of us. This

guy gave me his name and number and we went our separate ways. I

couldn’t remember what his name was, so my friend and I nicknamed him

Pineapple because of his long hair plopped right on top of his head."

Ariele Chapman Photography

"We texted back and forth a little bit and I could tell he really

liked me, but I had given up on dating so I was NOT interested. I

would take days, maybe even a week, to even reply to his text

messages. He would ask me on dates and I would always find a way to

get out of it. You could say I was self-sabotaging. I think that I was

so afraid of another guy telling me that they couldn’t see a future

with me because of my chair, that I was not even going to put myself

in that position anymore. It wasn’t until 3 months after we met that I

finally let him take me on a date. But even after that, I was not

convinced he wouldn’t go running the second he realized that a life

with me would mean putting my pants on every day, or helping me


Ariele Chapman Photography

"We stayed friends for almost a year, but we had a weird relationship.

I knew he was madly in love with me, but he never made any moves, so

was I really sure he was madly in love with me? After about a year of

living in California, the best friend I had moved with had gotten

married and moved back to Utah. I wanted to stay in California but

couldn’t afford to live on my own and since I had moved with my best

friend, I hadn’t really made any other friends. One night, Jared had

taken me out to dinner at Filippi’s in downtown San Diego. I brought

up the idea that I was possibly moving back to Utah soon, and I could

literally see his heartbreak. He told me I couldn’t move back to Utah,

and that I could live with his family or his grandpa for a while so I

wouldn’t have to pay rent and still live in California. I decided this

would be a good time to actually see if he had feelings for me, so I

casually said, ‘Have you ever thought about dating me?’"

Ariele Chapman Photography

"I could tell this question caught him off guard because up until this

moment, I had never made an indication that I was even interested. In

fact, I wouldn’t even hug him for too long because I didn’t want him

to get the wrong idea. He played it cool and said, ‘Of course I have.’

We had a 3-hour conversation about us ‘dating’ and he told me, ‘If you

move back to Utah and don’t date me, you’ll regret it.’ After that

conversation I sort of freaked out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to date

him because I didn’t want my heart broken again. But there was

something so different about Jared. He was so genuine. He never once

made me feel insecure about my disability and never once asked me what

my disability meant for my future."

Ariele Chapman Photography

"The following weeks were so important in our relationship. I finally

decided, ‘Okay maybe I do like Pineapple.’ He took me to this cute

sushi place in La Jolla that overlooked the ocean. It had a

breathtaking view and I know he picked that place because he knew I

would love it. Jared was so used to me leaving right after dinner, but

I asked him if he wanted to take a walk. All of the sudden, (don’t ask

me what came over me), I grabbed his hand and started holding it. It

felt so natural and so right and neither of us said anything, he just

continued to walk (well he walked, I rolled) around just talking. We

ended up getting dessert… twice… and I still wasn’t ready to leave him

and go home. This was the moment I realized I had fallen in love with

the guy I swore I would never date.

In January, Jared got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It

was everything I could ask for. I have never known love until I met


Ariele Chapman Photography

"Our wedding day was the single most important day of my life. I

couldn’t be more excited to become Jared’s wife. He looked at me with

so much adoration and love when I came rolling down the aisle, and I

knew in that moment we would be able to make it through anything and


Ariele Chapman Photography

"Jared and I are coming up on our one-year anniversary and over the

past ten months, Jared has put me in bed every night, helped me

shower, blow dried my hair, dressed me, carried me and catered to my

every need. He has shown me true, unconditional love. We’ve had

conversations about how our life will play out, will we have kids, can

we have kids, how long will I be here on this earth, etc. All Jared

replies is, ‘I don’t care if we have kids. I want kids, but I want you

more.’ He is the person I KNOW I was designed for, and he was designed

for me. He loves me for who I really am. He loves me at my best and at

my worst. He takes every challenge I have and looks at it as a way to

serve and love me. I don’t know what I did to deserve him and his

love, but I will try every single day to be worthy of his love and

give all that love right back to him.”

Ariele Chapman Photography

Love What Matters


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