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Cupid Keeps Love Alive

Romance is in the air! Local sweethearts share inspiring stories… and tips on keeping true love alive! As the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.” This Valentine’s Day sentiment is exemplified by four remarkable couples, each with a unique love story.

Keeping It Fresh


Denise and Sam MaloneThey met at a charity fundraiser featuring Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Denise was the PR director and needed a host for the event. Sam obliged, and Denise loved his sense of humor. The chemistry led to a proposal in 1989, after Sam asked her dad’s permission. “He actually offered me $5,000 to elope. True story!” quips Sam.

Twenty-five years have flown by as Sam mastered the radio airwaves and Denise worked as marketing director for the Home Shopping Network, among other ventures. When their son Jake was born 17 years ago, Denise shifted into volunteering and is one of the chairs of the Nutcracker Market.

Their secret to a long marriage? “Keeping it fresh,” says Sam. “We’ve been married 25 years and still have ‘date night’ at least once a week.” They say “I love you” multiple times daily in person and via steamy text messages. Sam ditches his cell phone when he comes home to minimize distractions. Radio audiences also have benefited from their marital bliss. For years Houstonians enjoyed Sammy’s Singles mixers, which grew to 5,000 attendees and became a Valentine’s Day tradition. It sparked more than 25 marriages and the birth of 20 children, with two named after Sam! Today Sam continues his radio career and shares marriage advice each Friday morning on AM 1070’s highly popular segment, The Answer. Denise occasionally joins him on air. The goal is to set a great example for their son and others who need to hear more about happy marriages and less about celebrity break-ups and cheating scandals. Audio episodes can heard at honorthevow.com.


Laughter And Honesty


Bob Allen and Megan CardetKHOU-TV sports director Bob Allen has met countless dignitaries and celebrities throughout his 40-year career. But his favorite introduction was to local realtor and lifelong equestrian Megan Stevens Cardet. Her interest in art, design, travel and photography was impressive, and her efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home horses was especially admirable. “We were at the right time and place in our lives for a meaningful relationship,” says Bob. “What I want is a solid grounded base, and with Megan I have that.”

Megan has been by his side throughout a medical battle that Bob describes as a “cage match” with T-cell lymphoma. Fans and well wishers have followed his diagnosis and treatments on Facebook and Twitter, noting Bob’s positivity and upbeat response: “I got this.” It helps that he and Megan focus on honesty and share the same sense of humor. “Bob is so down to earth, crazy and fun to be with,” says Megan. “I try to make sure he does what he has to do to get well, instead of what he wants to do.”

Thankfully, Bob learned he was in remission this past November and looks forward to a wonderful future with Megan, his children and his grandchildren. He refers to himself as the world’s oldest Sunshine Kid and has supported the organization for children with cancer since 1982. “Their strength and courage is what I’m emulating,” he says. When asked how they juggle all the demands in their busy lives, Megan replies, “We both put each other first and our careers second. Life is about making memories and sharing the good times with family and friends.”


Keeping It Real”


Bo and Stacey PorterBo met Stacey on the first day of class at University of Iowa and was attracted to the tall, athletic runway model. But it was Stacey’s intellect and warm personality that captured his heart. Their initial encounter eventually blossomed into 19 years of marriage in the world of major league baseball, including an engagement story with an interesting twist. He had ordered a custom engagement ring for a Valentine’s Day proposal. The jeweler didn’t have it ready in time, so instead Bo gave Stacey a beautiful tennis bracelet. She had anticipated a ring and playfully accepted the bracelet by saying, “I do.” Thankfully, the next day Bo was able to propose and slip the real deal on her finger! He admires Stacey’s love of Christ, commitment to family and service to the community. “She’s a Hall of Fame mother to our son, Bryce,” he says of the amazing woman who has been by his side as he played pro baseball, managed the Houston Astros and coached teams such as the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves. They’ve opened several businesses including Real Excellence, Inc., and oversee the Stacey and Bo Porter SELF Foundation that supports programs that impact underprivileged youth. Bo’s newly released book, “Real Life EMPOWERED,” was inspired by their loving marriage. The couple keep the spark alive with good old fashioned date nights. Their advice for newlyweds? Pray together, keep communication open and honest, speak only to your spouse about your spouse, give undivided attention when your spouse needs it, have compassion and empathy, be open to changing for the better and be your mate’s biggest cheerleader. “Don’t just give gifts on Valentine’s Day and special occasions,” Bo adds. “Surprise her with roses, a favorite restaurant, an ice cream date, a picnic in the park or a trip to a favorite destination. It will send a resounding message of love.”


Warming His Heart


Lori Freese and Dan ZindlerLori recalls being Dan’s Facebook friend with loads of mutual friends and inviting him to a party for a client. Dan recalls meeting her in person a year and half earlier at the River Oaks Tennis Tournament, where she introduced herself. The funny part is, she didn’t remember that. Nevertheless, Dan accepted her invitation and arrived at her event with 600 in attendance. Luckily, she was standing at the entrance. By the end of the evening each thought, “Dang, you’re cute!” and the rest is history! Lori was drawn to Dan, who is Marvin Zindler’s son, because he’s obviously adorable, but also calm, funny, challenging and supportive. “Plus, he comes with a known and check-able history,” she says. It warms Dan’s heart that they have good conversations and understand each other. “She is creative, happy, insanely patient and she motivates me,” he explains. “Plus, she is sweet and sassy and tolerates me… the last one being the most important!” Lori owns a public/media relations firm and Dan is in real estate. They respect each other’s career demands and the need for space, but also are careful to schedule time together. This mutual understanding makes everything more enjoyable, from attending events to going to the grocery store or cleaning the house as a team. “At the end of every phone call I always tell her I love her. If I don’t for some reason, I call her back immediately,” says Dan. Other little things keep the pair connected and happy on the home front, such as Dan’s unconditional love and acceptance of Lori’s dogs. Once Lori washed his car. “For a guy, that is really awesome!” he says. They believe in doing little things every day to remind each other how loved they are.

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