The couple had recently celebrated their 25th anniversary together with a renewal of their vows. Paul died at the age of 56.
A couple with down syndrome have one of the best love stories of all time as they beat all odds to stay together for around three decades. Paul and Kris were believed to have been in the world's longest marriage for a couple with down syndrome. The couple who had been in love with each other for around three whole decades celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary a few months back. Sadly, their marriage had to come to an end as Paul passed away at the age of 56 after battling an Alzheimer's disease.
Three decades ago, Kris Scharoun-DeForge went to a dance, spotted Paul DeForge and immediately fell in love. Reflecting on that day, she often says, “I looked into Paul’s eyes and saw my future.” https://t.co/3sFUaDFTa9 pic.twitter.com/1kehavvPHp— WOWT 6 News (@WOWT6News) August 24, 2018
Paul Scharoun-DeForge, 56, would have grown up in an institution if his parents had listened to the doctors when he was just a child. Kris' parents had also considered to put her in a residential care institution when she was young. However, luckily the parents didn't act on those decisions and Paul and Kris eventually met when they grew older. The couple has proved to the world what true love actually is. The couple had defied all odds to stay together. Relatives believe the couple had shared the longest marriage ever recorded between two people with Down syndrome, and have described them as being ‘role models’.
The passing of Paul Scharoun-DeForge, whose historic 25-year marriage in greater #Syracuse to Kris Scharoun-DeForge - both of them born with #DownSyndrome - was powerful statement on independence and the quest for happiness. My piece for @TheBuffaloNews: https://t.co/QBfVqbsyl9— sean kirst (@seankirst) April 2, 2019
Paul and Kris first met each other at a dance event held for people with disabilities. They apparently fell in love with each other instantly. They dated for almost a decade until finally getting engaged in 1988 after Kris proposed to Paul. However, the pair were not allowed to get married until they could prove to New York state officials that they could give their consent to the relationship. This included taking Planned Parenthood-sponsored classes and sitting tests which measured their understanding of sexual knowledge, feelings, and needs.
Paul suffered from dementia and was moved to an intensive care facility a few months back. He was moved away from his wife right after celebrating their silver anniversary. In April, earlier this year, Paul passed away due to complications of dementia. The couple is seen as an icon for everyone, showing people that no matter how hard it is, we can always overcome our hurdles and achieve what we truly want. "What they did clear the path for other couples," his mother, Lorraine DeForge told the Buffalo News.
When Kris Scharoun-DeForge spotted Paul DeForge she fell in love. While many doubted them, the couple with Down syndrome just celebrated 25 years of marriage. pic.twitter.com/LuJdexB4Z7— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 24, 2018
There were many people who were against their relationship, especially when they decided to get married. However, they have proved that people with intellectual disabilities can acknowledge and understand their feelings too and that they are capable of having fulfilling marriages as well. “They have been a role model for unconditional positive regard in a relationship,” Susan Scharoun, Kris’ sister, told TODAY, last year. They had a fully functioning marriage like any other couple that isn't diagnosed with down syndrome.
They would often cook for themselves, Paul apparently loved everything that Kris cooked. During the interview last year he mentioned that Kris was an amazing cook. They often went bowling and even attended dances together in Syracuse, New York, where they lived. They often joined Scharoun and her family at their camp in the Adirondack Mountains. The family saw how much the two admired and respected each other. “They have unconditional love,” Scharoun said. “They totally complement each other.”
It is only in the past few years that the couple has been faced with several health complications that sometimes kept them apart. Paul started showing signs of dementia, which occurs earlier in people with Down syndrome. As he declined, he had to move to an intensive care setting and Kris struggled with being alone for the first time since their marriage. “We had to tell her he wasn’t going to come back and it became really difficult for her,” Scharoun said. Kris spent as much time as she possibly could with Paul. She even went to visit him on Valentine's Day with a local barbershop quartet serenading them.
Husband in one of the longest marriages of a Down syndrome couple dies at 56— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) May 1, 2019
Even with dementia, Paul Scharoun-DeForge always remembered his loving wife. “They are role models for everybody who wants a good relationship,” a sister said. https://t.co/V2aSxI1hHf
A memorial mass was held for Paul by the families on April 6th. Scharoun said her sister and brother-in-law showed that people with Down syndrome can achieve their dreams. “They should define their own lives. We should ask them more questions about what they want,” she said. “They know what is good for them.”