Feeling the Love
Oprah producers called Tom and cooked up a crazy plan to get his wife, Gina, from upstate New York to Chicago without letting her know where they were going. Tom surprises Gina at the school she works at and whisks her away to the airport. To keep Gina in the dark, Tom outfits her in a blindfold, headphones and a sign that reads, "My hubby is taking me on a surprise trip. Please don't tell me where I am."
At the airport, everyone from the ticket counter staff to the flight crew is in on the plan, announcing only that the plane is headed for "the mystery city." Gina thinks they're on their way to Fiji and is still in the dark when the couple lands in the Windy City. They spend the night in a hotel room stripped of anything that could give away the surprise. There are no magazines, brochures—not even a television!
Gina, who is wearing her Fiji sandals, says she suspected something about her surprise during the flight. "When we were on the plane, the pilot said, 'Welcome to our mystery city,'" Gina says. "And I said, 'The only person that could get a pilot to do something like that was Miss O.'"
"Isn't that a sweet, sweet thing he did? How sweet is that?" Oprah asks. "Now everybody's watching saying, 'What you going to do for me, honey?' Well, you've made it hard for a lot of guys, Tom."
Courtney and Angela first crossed paths 24 years ago in graduate school at Yale University. She noticed the "alluring" Courtney, but he didn't remember Angela at all. Years later, Angela was in a play with Courtney's then-girlfriend. Again, there was no romance. Over the next decade, Courtney's career took him to Broadway and Angela moved to Los Angeles, where she eventually landed her Oscar®-nominated role in What's Love Got to Do with It.
After running into Courtney in 1994, Angela agreed to go on a date with him. "Dare I say, it wasn't memorable," Angela says. "He just seemed like a really, really nice guy, which translated [to] 'kind of boring.'"
But after a second date at the driving range, something clicked and they spent the rest of the week together. Angela says she felt like a teenager after their first kiss, complete with "pinpricks and chills." Angela then flew to Milan, where she replayed the kiss over and over in her mind. At the same time, Courtney flew to his mother's retirement party in Detroit with exciting news. "I had to go to tell my mom that I think I've found my wife," Courtney says.
The couple says their marriage is strong because they keep "God in the middle." Angela even had "GOD" inscribed on her wedding band between her and Courtney's initials. "I can only rely on his strength," Angela says. "I'll attempt to see [Courtney] even in those moments that aren't perfect, perhaps in a small way, the way God sees him."
Despite their busy Hollywood careers, Courtney and Angela also work to keep the ego that often accompanies being in the business out of their marriage. "I'm proud of the accolades that he receives," Angela says. "And that is something we had to navigate early."
Courtney says he used to let worries about their careers take over. "I had to acknowledge that she's first," Courtney says. "We've got to decide what we want first and then that calmed me down."
Still, Angela remained optimistic. "I wanted it, but I couldn't hold onto it so that I was devastated when it didn't happen," she says. "I had to remain hopeful and resilient and, 'Okay, let's do it again.'"
The couple's path to parenthood was forever changed after a conversation Angela had with a friend. "She said, 'Angela, guess what? We're five months pregnant.' And I was, like, 'You are?'" Angela says. "So she began to tell me about the idea of surrogacy."
Angela brought the idea up to Courtney, and they decided to think about it. "The more we learned about it, the more we began to think that perhaps this was an answer for us," Angela says.
Courtney says he always knew they would have twins. "I had a dream about seven years ago that we were going to have twins," Courtney says. "I didn't know how it was going to happen."
Angela says the twins' birth was an amazing experience. She remembers the sights, the smells and the people who were there—and the feeling that her and Courtney's dreams have come true. "Just standing there together, holding each other with the realization that this is the moment that we've been working toward, praying for," she says.
Courtney says becoming a parent has only strengthened his marriage. "It just means we've got to be more clear in terms of what we're about and the decisions that we have to make," he says.
Eventually, Emmanuel found his way to a refugee camp in Kenya, but suffered from nightmares of what he'd seen. "I'd seen friends shot right on the spot, friends being eaten by lions and hyenas," he says.
Then, in 1998, Emmanuel met a girl named Veronica in the Kenyan camp. "I was captivated and all I wanted to do is just stand there and just watch," he says. Emmanuel only spoke with Veronica for a moment before asking a man with a camera, who happened to be nearby, to take their picture. (Above: Veronica is second from left. Emmanuel is on the far right.) To Emmanuel's joy, the photographer actually returned to the camp and gave him the picture for free.
"Something inside of me just kept telling me, you better keep this picture. You better keep it. Keep it well." For the next six years, Emmanuel carried that photograph for thousands of miles.
He started school and a new life in North Carolina, eventually enrolling at the University of North Carolina, where he is pre-med student with a double major in biology and psychology.
Emmanuel remained in close contact with his friends, who had been dispersed around the world. "It's the way the immigration works. They were sending people there [to] Canada, the U.S. and also Australia," he says. "The embassy would come and pick you randomly."
One Christmas, he traveled to visit friends in Canada. When he walked into a church, he was shocked by what he saw. "When I opened the door, looking into the aisle, I saw Veronica. I thought I was dreaming," he says. "I was jumping over the benches and I was running towards her because I recognized her face. We just ran into each other."
When Emmanuel produced the photo he'd been carrying with him for so long, Veronica began to cry. "I was holding onto the picture hoping that I would one day see her. … I just knew in my heart that I would see Veronica one day," he says.
When word of Emmanuel's plight spread, two of his friends, Cece and Kristin, came through. Wearing "Got Cattle?" T-shirts, they organized a fundraising walk for true love.
The "Got Cattle?" fundraiser actually raised $15,000, and Emmanuel and Veronica were married in July 2006 in Canada. Emmanuel and Veronica have big news they want to share. Although they are still waiting for immigration permission so they can set up a home together, Veronica is pregnant!
And that's not the only surprise. The Oprah Show arranged for a visa to let Veronica visit Emmanuel in America for Valentine's Day.
Carrie's parents did everything to give her a normal life, but deep inside, Carrie says she felt something was missing. "I was very lonely because I didn't have anyone," Carrie says. That changed when she met Sujeet, a talented musician who also has Down syndrome. It was love at first sight for both Carrie and Sujeet.
To their parents' surprise, Sujeet asked for Carrie's hand in marriage after six months of dating. "I thought very hard that I wanted to propose and it was a very touching moment," Sujeet says. "I burst out in tears."
Did Carrie cry, too? "Yes…and hyperventilated," she says.
At first, their parents were skeptical, but were willing to consider what it took to make their children happy. "When Carrie was born, we never dreamed that marriage was in the future," Carrie's mother, Peggy, says. "But Carrie has always looked ahead. When she met Sujeet, we could see the love that they had and we knew that they deserved that companionship and relationship."
With their parents' approval, the couple celebrated their union with two dream weddings to reflect both of their religions—Sujeet is Hindu and Carrie is Christian. Since they had ceremonies on July 1 and 8, they celebrate their anniversary on the first and eighth day of every month!
"No matter where we are in life, we will never grow apart," Carrie says. "If you really love somebody, never, ever, quit."
The effects of the tsunami were felt in many coastal countries, and not just by humans.
When Owen, a wild baby hippopotamus, was washed away from his herd on the coast of Kenya, he was left orphaned. The following day, nearby villagers came to Owen's rescue, bringing him to a local wildlife park. There the search for a surrogate parent led little Owen to Mzee, a cranky 130-year-old giant tortoise. The frightened hippo adopted the old tortoise as his parent. It seemed like love at first sight as Mzee, who was a loner for years, instantly accepted the baby hippo as his own. The pair began eating together and sleeping side by side.
Today, more than two years later, Owen still follows Mzee around the park. Owen and Mzee have formed such a tight bond, workers at the park are worried that Owen is acting too much like a tortoise. They have brought in another hippo to teach Owen how to act a little more hippo-like.