— As told by Judie Hockel, Christi’s mom
Californian Christi, a bubbly young dancer who happens to have Down syndrome, taught a hip-hop routine for one of the self-advocate workshops at the 2004 National Down Syndrome Congress in Milwaukee. Austin, a handsome Texan from Dallas, participated, and it was love at first sight. After a very long distance courtship involving many Southwest flights and huge cell phone bills (this was before “unlimited minutes”) they convinced their parents that they really wanted to spend their lives together.
In 2009, Austin and Christi were united in a church ceremony. She moved 1,200 miles from her family to his duplex in Dallas, where with the support of their families and the community, they became inseparably happy, dancing their way through a unique love story.
Austin rode DART every day to his job at a downtown law firm. Christi worked supporting teachers at a parochial school. They loved acting and dancing every year in the Highland Park United Methodist Church troupe for people with special needs. They became popular motivational speakers around the country, sharing about their lives as a married couple with Down syndrome.
But their happiness was not immune to tragedy, as Austin’s life was suddenly cut short by a seizure last May, leaving a broken-hearted wife, a grieving family and the Dallas community he was so much a part of.
Christi is still living in their home, still loving her Austin, missing her dancing partner, but trusting God and thankful for the years they had together.
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