Lucky in love.
For Findlay Faithfuls Forrest Miller ’17 and Sara Tomko ’19, it’s not just the last word of this phrase that takes on a myriad of meaning; it’s also the first word. Yes, they are lucky to have met each other and fallen in love at University of Findlay; but the University, and, frankly, the world is lucky to have a couple of people who seem to exude and encourage an amazing love and hope for the future just by being together to take life on in tandem. And luck and good fortune are also paramount to the pair’s engagement, a day that had so many twists, turns, and things falling into amazing place, thanks to the creative genius of Miller, that it can be called nothing short of serendipitous.
The pair met as members of the residence life staff at UF, when Forrest, two years ahead of Sara, was a resident director and Student Government Association (SGA) president, and Sara was in her first year as a resident assistant. There wasn’t an immediate spark, particularly for Sara, as she viewed Forrest as somewhat of a superior, due both to the hierarchy of the residence life system, and the fact that he was ahead of her in class. But, through Sara’s dedication to whatever it is she’s involved with, and with the help of the first bit of luck, that changed after one particular night.
There was a concert scheduled by a well-known artist at UF, and, as the SGA president, Forrest, who had a big hand in getting the event ready, needed and called for more volunteers to help with the event. “The concert was amazing,” she said, “and I stayed to help tear down afterwards. I was only ‘scheduled’ for a few hours, but the tear down took a while and I ended up staying well beyond the times I had signed up for.” Forrest saw this extra dedication as an opportunity to both thank her for her hard work and, perhaps, break the ice a bit. So, a few days later, he presented her with a signed, framed poster from the concert with a concert ticket inside. “The SGA advisors and I decided to make these and give them to those volunteers who sort of went ‘above and beyond’ throughout the concert,” Forrest explained. Sara made a thank-you card and put it in his residence life mailbox, they began talking a lot more, and soon after, Forrest asked Sara to coffee. Long story short, dating commenced.
Both Sara and Forrest were heavily involved on campus, so dating life was about finding the time to be meaningfully together, which certainly wasn’t easy. “We were very upfront with each other about what we would want from the other,” Sara explained. “Forrest was a senior at that point, looking into attending law school after graduation and I was a sophomore; so we were at very different points in our UF careers.” They found time, however, and stayed together, even after Forrest’s graduation with a UF degree and subsequent move to Toledo for law school. Their love grew, and, after a while, Forrest, employing a mind-boggling quest to show his ultimate love for Sara, devised the plan for a proposal of marriage that would weave a tapestry of events, ultimately transpiring with the official act at the University’s Mazza Museum.
On April 18, 2019, which just happened to be Sara’s grandparents’ anniversary, Forrest, knowing how close she was with her grandparents, launched the infamous and intricate plan that he had been working toward for weeks. It is a dizzying set of what Sara, at the time, thought was merely coincidences, but that was really a meticulously planned out day, helped along by Forrest’s tight-lipped friends and family. It started with Sara, an early childhood education major, going to George House Coffee across from campus with the teacher she was student teaching for. George House had been a regular “spot” for Forrest and Sara, and the business was known for posting a daily quote on their quote board. On this day, the quote, from Dr. Seuss, was planted by Forrest. “The quote was ‘We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness, and call it love,’” Forrest explained. “Dr. Seuss, because of Sara’s major and future career, and the actual quote because it sort of described us pretty well.”
Sara barely noticed.
Another part of Forrest’s plan had the teacher gave Sara a book by children’s author/illustrator Patricia Polacco, a featured author/illustrator at Mazza, signed by all of Sara’s students from the class. The book has a kitten, in honor of the couple’s love for cats, and includes, as well, a story of true love.
Sara was thrilled about it, but still had no inkling of its true intent.
Then, again, as an intentional part of Forrest’s crafty plans, Sara’s close friend Bree took her to Riverbend Recreation Area and the Findlay reservoir – the place of the couple’s first real date – for a walk with Bree’s dog. Bree led Sara to a pizza painted rock that had a pun written on the back. “Our second date was a stay-at-home date because I was on duty as a resident director, so we made pizzas at my apartment,” Forrest explained. Of course, he had planted the rock beforehand. “Throughout the day, I was at every location where she was, before she was, to get a picture,” Forrest explained further.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so cute! How cool that somebody did this,’” Sara said. “But I just prepared to leave it there, and Bree kept pushing me to take it, so I’m like, ‘Okay. It’s just a rock; I’ll take it.”
In case you’re wondering, fair reader, no, Sara had not caught on.
And it went on and on, culminating in a final elaborate plan to get Sara to the Mazza Museum, where Forrest was waiting at the end of a trail of rose petals alongside easels that narrated the day’s events through pictures Forrest had taken at all of the places that Sara had visited. He was there on bended knee; he popped the proverbial question, and Sara, finally understanding what was going on, surprised, but not surprisingly, answered yes.
Cut to present day; Sara has graduated from UF, Forrest has graduated from law school and passed the bar exam, and the couple, in yet another whirlwind tale, have ended up in Florida, after Forrest took a job at a law firm there, and Sara working on her Florida certifications in childcare, as well as her teaching certifications. Their plans for a wedding have been temporarily derailed by the COVID pandemic, but, they say, there’s “no doubt” they’ll get married and be together forever. “We had to make a lot of major decisions pretty quick, and ended up buying a house in Florida which for two young adults fresh out of college, took a lot out of us, emotionally and financially,” Sara said. “We want to have fun and enjoy ourselves, not make it stressful.”
But their time at UF and that winding road to the Mazza Museum will forever be their story; the one that shows just how lucky in love they really are. “Sara was actively involved with various events and activities with the Mazza Museum during her time at UF,” Forrest said. “It was an appropriate ending to a day about our Findlay relationship.”
“If it wasn’t for UF,” Sara added, “we could’ve never built this life we have together. It’s the truth. We were brought together there for a reason, and we couldn’t be happier about that.”
Lucky in love, indeed.