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Persons with disabilities celebrate Valentine’s Day

A short time ago Maurice Stephens got down on one knee and proposed to Megan Modero. “I was very nervous,” Stephens said. “I had my eyes closed.” It was Modero’s birthday and the couple had been joined by her family at the Rainforest Café in Edison to celebrate – or so she thought.

 “I said to him, ‘What are you doing,’” Modero said. “My family was shocked. My mom said, ‘Well, do you accept?’ Of course I said yes.”

What makes this story even sweeter is that Stephens and Modero are persons with disabilities. Both are members of Community Access Unlimited (CAU), a Union County-based, statewide nonprofit that strives to integrate people with disabilities and at-risk youth into the general community through comprehensive supports. They met at CAU’s Day Program in Cranford.

The couple was made for each other. They love to attend Broadway plays, both perform in CAU’s annual musical production and both love art. While this year’s Valentine’s Day celebration will have to be a bit simple – they are saving for a fall wedding and a cruise honeymoon – it will be a special one for the couple.

“It’s hard to find Megan without finding me,” Stephens said.

The couple was married in 2015 and they plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day at a party hosted by CAU.

Romantic relationships are very healthy for people with disabilities, according to Jeremy Lefever, a behaviorist at CAU.

“People with disabilities are just like any other group,” he said. “They want respect, fair treatment, acceptance and, most of all, love. The general public has misplaced perceptions about love and relationships and how they impact the disability community. Adults with disabilities are able to and want to be in mutually romantic relationships and some eventually want to get married and have children. It is important that we afford them every opportunity to find love and romance.”

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