A mutual friend set up Laura, 54, and Dennis, 65 in 2001. When they first began dating, Laura lived in Columbia, SC and didn’t know what the Carolina Panthers were. But she and Dennis, an avid fan, still hit it off and were married Dec. 21, 2002. They live in Mooresville and Dennis tells their story.
“Say what?”: I’ve never missed a Panthers’ home game and for years I’ve sat next to and tailgated with a friend from Columbia. In 2001, my friend had just gotten to know Laura and suggested that we meet. When our friend asked Laura to come to the first game of the 2001 season with us, her response was “What are the Panthers?”
Added bonus: After Sept. 11, the NFL postponed the first week of games, so I drove to Columbia to meet Laura at a restaurant. She would later say she was relieved not to be committed to two-hours of tailgating plus a three-hour game with someone she might not even like. I arrived before Laura but she said I’d know her because she’d have a rose in her mouth. I guess she couldn’t find an actual rose, but sure enough, she walked in the door with a flower in her mouth. My first impression was a good one, here was a pretty lady with a sense of humor.
Learning curve: Since we started dating, Laura has come to every Panthers game with me. She learned about the sport and became a huge fan, while I became a huge Laura fan. I proposed to her at the opening game of the 2002 season. I’d arranged for the Panthers mascot, Sir Purr, to come to our seats wearing his tuxedo jacket with a dozen roses for Laura. I took out the ring and asked her to marry me in front of 72,000 of our “closest” friends. When Laura said “yes” the crowd went nuts.
Game time: We got married the day before the final game in 2002 and will celebrate our tenth anniversary this year. Since it’s the winter solstice, we always celebrate by going some place warm. Last year we went to New Orleans to watch the Panthers play on New Years Day. This year we’re going to the Caribbean.- Hilary Trenda
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