With what has seemed like endless winter, a ray of sunshine and a mild day brings thoughts of all those activities we live for: long walks, sitting on the deck, picnics. And perhaps a new friendship, or even romance.

Six years ago, Boyd of Brooklyn and Alexis of Jamaica, Queens, had those same spring thoughts as they eagerly awaited the annual picnic sponsored by The Center for Family Support, an organization the assists individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. They knew there would be great food, fun games, lively entertainment and the chance to socialize with other adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to meet their family members. What they didn’t know was that they would meet each other, and begin a friendship that would continue to grow.

While Boyd wanted to say “hi” to Alexis, he was self-conscious of his speech and the familiar shyness took over. However not wanting to lose an opportunity to meet a young lady, he finally got up the nerve to approach Alexis. To his delight, he found her not only fun and engaging, but also discovered he enjoyed listening to her amusing stories of life in her residence with her roommates.

They discovered they shared many common interests. A night out took them to their favorite restaurants: Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Applebee’s. A night in found them hanging out and watching their favorite TV show, The Wayan’s Bros. When it came to sports, a compromise was needed as Alexis adores basketball while Boyd is a fan of baseball. Now they are fans of both as together, they watched and cheered for their beloved teams.

After two years of dating, Alexis and Boyd broke up, as many couples often do. However today, they are back together and enjoying the things they love to do together; watching the movie, Bad Boys and enjoying their favorite actor, Martin Lawrence.

Their lives are full and they are living independently. Alexis attends a day program and Boyd, who works at Modell’s, was recently selected by CFS as the NY Self-Advocate of the Year. The award recognizes what can be accomplished through determination and purpose in this community as members research community-based offerings and activities for their members and advocate for themselves and their fellow members in the community. Boyd is an active member of the CFS Self-Starters program with a nurturing spirit and positive attitude who has not let a diagnosis of a disability stop him from living a productive and fulfilling life. In addition to his involvement with CFS, he is a junior pastor at his church. He is a strong and positive daily role model for the men in his group home in the East New York section of Booklyn. His housemates regularly look to him for advice and encouragement on many topics that affect their daily lives.

Boyd has worked at Modell’s for several years and was recently promoted. He is putting aside some money each week to buy a ring for Alexis, and one day hopes they can be married!