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CHICAGO — Paxton native and Chicago Cubs baseball fan Kaitlyn Wooten had been excited about going with her boyfriend, Jefferson Henrichs, to a Cubs baseball game against the archrival St. Louis Cardinals this summer; the fact that Henrichs, a Buckley resident, was a Cardinals fan didn’t bother the 20-year-old a bit.
The tension of the Cubs-Cardinal game took a backseat to the tension Henrichs faced in the stands during the game’s middle innings. He chose the Wrigley Field stands as the place to ask for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage on July 29.
Henrichs’ Cardinals lost the game, but he came out of the event a winner. Wooten said “yes,” and the couple is scheduled to be wed on Oct. 5, 2013.
“I was totally surprised,” said Wooten of the unique marriage proposal. “He had been in North Dakota two weeks before the game, and I was in Texas. When I got back from Texas, he went to North Dakota, so I had only talked to him on the phone before we went to the game.”
Henrichs had made arrangements with the Wrigley Field scoreboard message representatives to have his proposal given during the middle of the game. Usually, between innings, the Cubs will announce special birthdays and large groups, for example.
Henrichs was told there would be about 15 messages before his; it turned out that there were perhaps twice as many, which added to his suspense.
“He got up in the middle of the inning and asked if I needed a Coke, and he was waiting for the messages, and when ours came up he said, ‘Look, look, look,’ and then he asked me,” Wooten said. “He was nervous, but he did it right.”
“I had always wanted to do something really special for her,” said Henrichs. “I had planned it a while before the game. One of my friends had told me about the messages during games, and so I called them and asked if it was possible, and they said it would be great. But right when you’re there in your seat, it gets nerve-racking. When they hit message 25, it was crazy. I had my hand in my pocket for a while (before the end of the inning), and then in-between innings when message number three came I had been standing and it took forever.”
The shock of the proposal initially had Kaitlyn tongue-tied, but not long enough to have her fiancée’ in panic mode. After she said “yes,” they embraced and kissed, but, amazingly, the people nearby had no idea what was going on until Henrichs got down on one knee to propose.
Wooten and Henrichs have known each other since sixth grade, as they were classmates at Paxton-Buckley-Loda Junior High School. He had been interested in getting to know her since junior high, but Jefferson did not ask Wooten out for a date until they were both high school juniors and went together to the homecoming dance of 2008.
They’ve been together ever since, and it is clear that both Parkland College students think very highly of each other.
“She’s a great woman, and we’ve been together for four years,” said Henrichs. “She’s a remarkably kind soul who tries to work with anybody, so I’m very happy.”
“I love how he makes me laugh and smile, and he has a good heart, too; he always is willing to help people,” said Wooten. “He was stepping out of his comfort zone a little bit (to ask me to marry him at Wrigley Field). I think he knew that I’d say ‘yes,’ and he kept his cool.
“As for me, I was really excited the rest of the game and afterward. I’m a Cubs fan, and the Cubs won the game.”