Vote For Mitchell Gaukel & Grace Mizell

by Mitchell Gaukel & Grace Mizell

We're supporting: 2021 Butterfly Ball Prom King & Queen Competition by Olivia Caldwell Foundation



The Butterfly Ball Prom King & Queen Competition is back!! Vote now for your favorite couple and help them earn their crowns!!

The couple with the most votes will be crowned Prom King & Queen during the Butterfly Ball #CovidStyle on March 13, 2021! The winning couple will earn an ALL-EXPENSES PAID VACATION to the destination OF THEIR CHOICE thanks to our friends at Bursch Travel!!

$1 donated = 1 vote! All proceeds from voting benefit the Olivia Caldwell Foundation for pediatric cancer research and to fund the Pediatric Specialty Outreach Clinic, which brings doctors from Children's Hospital Colorado in Denver up to Casper to see Wyoming kids where they live for a variety of complicated medical conditions!

Voting kicks off on February 09, 2021! Then the field will be narrowed to the TOP FOUR couples on February 26th! All voting will end at 11:59 pm on March 12th!

The 2021 Butterfly Ball Prom King & Queen Competition is sponsored by The McMurry Foundation & Foss Motors! 

Where would you expect to meet the "love of your life?" Would it be at the base of a beautiful waterfall, as you feel the cool spray on your face, observing the cascading water in the twilight? You turn...and there he a dream. Would it be at a fancy ball? In your formal gown? You nervously shift your feet as you wait to be asked out onto the dance floor...then suddenly, there he is offering his hand with a beckoning smile...

Well...I met mine in the most unlikely of of the last places that I would expect...Martial Arts Class! When I arrived to try my first class, Mitchell was sitting on the bench press machine. As I was welcomed in by our Sensei, Mr. McKenzie, it wasn't long before Mitchell struck up a conversation.

He opened with, "Question. How old are you?"
"Twenty. How old are you?," I replied.
"Too old." He said.
Probe though I might, he never actually gave me the answer until he asked me out.
Day one in Martial Arts class plunged me into the "dumbbell contest" - basically, all students from the school were challenged to pick up a particular dumbbell with only one hand. Whoever succeeded would be awarded free class for a year - AND a trip to Hawaii! So far, no one had conquered the challenge.

?One day, as I worked out with the class, I glanced wistfully at the dumbbell and exclaimed, "Someday I'm going to lift that!"
"If you do, I'll put it on YouTube!" Mr. McKenzie proudly stated.
"If you do, I'll say I'm in love!" Mitchell declared.
Feeling a little awkward, I said, "Hey now!" He immediately quieted down. I think both of us weren't sure what to do after that so we just kept working out in a rather uncomfortable silence. He later told me that he felt like he had really creeped me out in that moment, which he had!

He continued to drop hints of this nature throughout our class time together, but I was oblivious to them for quite some time. I recall on one day when we were taking a water break, and Mitchell began to try to spar with me. I resisted at first, but he prodded for more action with, "Is that all you've got?" Alright, it's on! I thought, whirling around to throw my best kick! However, to my dismay, it landed in a very, ahem, unfortunate place. He crumbled in pain. Mr. McKenzie was less than sympathetic. "See you can't mess with a Bulldog and then complain if it bites you!" "I'm SO sorry!" I tried to say, but I could barely stifle the laughter.

As the weeks and months went on, whenever I needed a partner, Mitchell was there. Two people per punching bag? Mitchell made a beeline to be on the same bag as I was? Sparring partner? Practicing throws? Yup. It was Mitch every time. Until... until our DoJo shut down due to COVID.

Shortly thereafter, I picked up a job at "Cluck It" in the Eastridge Mall food court. I was not typically scheduled to work on Friday nights, but one day I was covering a shift for a coworker. Interestingly enough, Mitchell, who worked at Wal-Mart, came across to the mall that night. When he spotted me behind the counter, he came right over. "So this is where you work?" he asked.

After we chatted for awhile, he moved on down the mall, and I continued to wait on customers, unaware that Mitchell was delighted to have obtained this new information. He returned a short time later to order some food, but couldn't quite get up the courage to approach me again at the Cluck It counter. He lingered as inconspicuously as possible at Pizzanity nearby, until he had built up the courage to place his order with me.

He talked with me over the register until I told him I was getting off work. I could see the disappointment in his eyes as he thought I was going home. After I shopped for a short time, I returned to the food court to get some dinner of my own. 
Mitchell was just finishing up his meal when he spotted me across the room. Seating himself at the table with me, a long conversation began.

I asked him if he had a FaceBook page. Sure enough, he did. I remember the look in his eyes as he admired the profile picture of me in a Belle costume from the live action Beauty & The Best film. "You look really pretty in that dress," he said as I blushed and averted my eyes to the side. Why was my face so warm?! Our conversation lasted about three hours before we basically closed the mall. During that conversation he asked if I wanted to practice martial arts in the park with him since neither of us were able to go to class. He waited until I was practically at my car to say, "So I don't have your number....?" as he shifted his eyes nervously.

About a week later on a beautiful spring day there we were! As we punched, kicked, and stretched, Mitchell casually commented, "I don't have a girlfriend, yet - maybe I'll meet her in a martial arts class like Mr. McKenzie did!" Subtle Mitch, very subtle. That day Mitchell pointed to my key chain and said, "I noticed that you work out at Planet Fitness. That's where I work out too; let's work out together - would tomorrow work?" He always wanted to do something together the next day. As we were working out together he called me cute twice as I struggled away with the machines. I punched him in the arm playfully and said, "stop it!" A huge grin went on his face and I could tell he loved that!

Park practices became a regular thing for the two of us over the pandemic shutdowns. Once, we were practicing our Martial Arts patterns and clashing slightly over who was remembering them correctly. A couple of quick google searches had proven me right both times. When I was correct for the third time in a row, he said, "Well I guess this means I'll have to take you to dinner. Do you want to do that tonight?" Smooth. Very smooth!

July brought another fun layer to our relationship - introducing him to my family. We were planning a cookout on the mountain and I invited him to join us. Knowing that my family's favorite cookout spot can be a bit hard to find, up near Beartrap Meadow, I picked him up at his house - just a few blocks away from my own - and drove him up the mountain. The funny thing is that I actually used to jog right past his house almost every day, without knowing it was his.

Now this is where the story REALLY starts to get good....He was very quiet the whole ride down the mountain. When I pulled up at his house he nervously said, "I feel like I need to say something..."

"What do you want to say?" I could tell he was dodging the real answer as he told me how much he had enjoyed all of my family and what a great time he'd had. We pulled up in front of his house, but he didn't get out of the car. Then, he awkwardly repeated, "I feel like I need to say something..."

"What do you want to say?"
"I can't while you're looking at me!"
"Do you want me not to look at you?"
Mitch sank back into his chair with a laugh. "Well I don't know!" He looked at me with a shy smile and said, "Part of me wants to ask you out on a date."
"Part of you?" I chuckled.
"Would you be willing to go on a date with me?"
Mitch still didn't seem ready to get out of the car.
"Anything else?" I asked.
"Well part of me wants to know if I can kiss you, but I have a feeling the answer will be a big NO!"
"You can try one," I laughed
So he leaned over and kissed me....
"That wasn't too bad," Mitchell said

"Wasn't too bad?" I replied with a grin
"Well it was actually fantastic! I just didn't want to sound overenthusiastic..." he paused. Then, looking deeply into my eyes he said something I'll never forget. "I believe God brought us together for a reason." Then he leaned over kissed me on the cheek and said goodnight.

The next day, July 4th, He invited me to go to the park with his family to eat BBQ and play darts. As we were playing darts I got very competitive with him, and in the process, I teased him about his "very poetic" date invitation the night before. With the great confidence he had lacked, he told me without hesitation, "What I was trying to say... what I SHOULD have said.... is that I love you!" I stopped tossing the darts and turned to look him in the eye. His handsome reddish dark blonde hair glinted in the sun. "Awww!" I exclaimed. "I love you too!" We went to see fireworks after that and had a very romantic evening together. As we were gazing into each others eyes under the fireworks, he said, "I think you're my angel."

After dating for a month, we were on the road to Douglas for a dance performance. I've been a dance instructor for seven years at my sister's dance studio, Beautiful Feet Academy of the Dance Arts. The frequently requested "Under God" program dedicated to fallen soldiers had been booked to perform at the State Fair and Mitchell, good sport that he was, had agreed to dance with me in the program! Never mind that he had never danced before in his life. I loved that my interests meant that much to him and his dancing prowess impressed me! Maybe the Martial Arts helped? That morning before we took off, he suddenly knelt down in front of me and held out a promise ring. He asked my permission to promise me that he would propose marriage very soon...before the year was over!

In December the dance studio was having our annual Christmas recital. Mitchell had asked my Mom and sister in advance if he could take the speaker on stage and make the big announcement before the recital. After introducing our instructors, just like we do at every recital, my sister announced that Mitchell had something to say! At that instant I knew what was coming. Adrenaline rushed through me as he asked me to join him at the front of the stage, and right then and there, he asked me to marry him! The audience gasped as he took a knee. I looked into his gracious eyes, so humble and kind as he awaited my response. Words escaped me, my heart was so full that all I could do was nod. Now we are engaged with a date set for June 27th. So far we are and I believe will have a happily ever after!

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