Evelyn Adams and David “Rocky” Barlett haven’t had your typical love story.
For the last three years, they’ve called a wooded homeless community in Florida home while hoping to one day marry and have a roof over their heads. Now, after 22 years together, they just may get their wish.
It all started when police officer Daniel McDonald, who works as a liaison for the homeless, spread the word about the duo. Evelyn and Rocky first lived together in Kenton, Ohio, spending the nights with family and friends, but moved to Florida in hopes of finding work. Unfortunately, the pair didn’t have much luck.
They lived under a bridge for six months before setting up camp in the woods of South Tampa, where they’ve resided for the past three years. Without a home, the couple could never afford the $93.50 needed for a marriage license.
Now, however, the local community has learned to love the homeless couple and even thrown them the wedding of their dreams, so the pair could officially celebrate their love for one another as a married couple.
“They’ve had an outpouring of support,” Officer McDonald told WFLA. “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. They’re going to do everything.”
About $20,000 has been publicly raised to give the couple, who are both 55, a fairytale wedding after word spread about a Tampa police officer’s mission to help them find a home, WFLA reported.
Bonnie McSharry, the owner of the event venue Cross Creek Ranch, heard of the couple’s plight and decided to pull together the ceremony they deserved. Local vendors pitched in all of the wedding essentials – dress, tux, flowers, food, rings, etc. and hosted the event on April 1. With their family, friends, and dog in attendance, Evelyn and Rocky finally said “I do.”
“It was a Cinderella story,” Evelyn, told ABC News. “It was the happiest moment of me and Rocky’s life. I was breathless.”
If the couple were to thank anyone particular person, it would be Tampa Police’s homeless liaison officer Daniel McDonald. He was the one who helped share their story.
“We do have a lot of challenges working with the homeless, so it is nice to have a victory like this. It is nice to see them happy and starting a new chapter in their life,” McDonald said.
“We literally stayed up till 3 am this morning just looking in amazement at everything we have,” Evelyn said. “It’s like a mansion. We are so grateful to be able to get this new, fresh start to our lives.”
But the best part of the story wasn’t the wedding at all. In between all of the prep for the big day, Officer McDonald managed to secure an apartment for the newlyweds at Gracepoint Supportive Housing. After a three-day honeymoon at a local hotel (also generously paid for), Evelyn and Rocky moved in this week. Their fairytale life can officially begin!