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June 30, 2005

Going on a 'real date,' settling down

Eastburn finds acceptance -- and a life partner

MAKING HIS WAY: ONE MAN'S JOURNEY TO THRIVE AND ENLIGHTEN

By BILL MOOR
Tribune Staff Writer




Chrisa and Brett Eastburn get ready to eat the first pieces of their wedding cake.

Photo provided

Brett and Chrisa Eastburn take to the dance floor during their wedding reception.

Photo provided

Brett Eastburn and his ring-bearer dog, Murray, get ready for Brett's wedding ceremonies.

Photo provided


To learn more

,/p> Brett Eastburn's Web site is http://www.bretteastburn.com/.

To contact him, call him at 877-559-5744 or write to him at 17897 Main St., Tyner, IN 46572. His e-mail address is [email protected].

Brett will be the keynote speaker at the third annual joint YMCA-Home Management Resources fundraiser banquet Aug. 26 at Century Center. The festivities also include a cash bar, silent auction, a dinner and an oral auction by Jason Kaser, one of Brett's classmates.

Admission is $40. For more information, call 233-3486.


Other stories in this series:

Making his way: One man's journey to thrive and enlighten

Fifth of seven parts

Chrisa (Hill) Eastburn couldn't believe what a great night she was having -- and that was even before she met her future husband.

She and a friend, Mark Andrews, were at Corby's Irish Pub in South Bend, and they had watched one patron ride a motorcycle right through the bar while another guy with no arms and legs was beating everybody in pool.

Brett Eastburn was the guy with no arms and legs.

"And while we were standing outside getting some air, that same guy came out beside us," Chrisa adds.

Brett says he knows it takes some people a little time to warm up to his lack of appendages.

"I can read people pretty well and I didn't sense any of that hesitation with Chrisa," Brett says.

In fact, Chrisa remembers seeing Brett and his buddy, Chad Kling, in the bar and saying to her friend, Mark, "Who's the short guy and the cute guy?"

Chad is about 5 feet 3 inches tall, and that's who she meant by the short guy.

The cute guy had captured the attention of the entire bar with his pool playing, and then he went on to beat the owner in darts. And now he was suddenly outside in his wheelchair and talking up a storm to Chrisa.

"He asked me if I had a boyfriend," Chrisa says.

She told him no.

"And so he asked if I would go out with him," Chrisa adds.

She told him sure.

"And then he said, 'On a real date, right?' I told him yes. Then he asked again if it would be a real date. I got a little annoyed at that point and said, 'Yeesss.' How many times do you have to ask?"

"I had asked other girls out and then when we were on a date, they would tell me that they were just out with me as a friend," Brett says.

He had plenty of friends. He wanted a girlfriend.

"I remember my buddy Mark saying to me, 'If you hurt this guy's feelings, I'm going to kick your butt,' " Chrisa says.

She had no such intentions.

When Brett picked Chrisa up at the South Bend home of her parents -- Malcolm and Kay Hill -- he knew there might be some awkwardness.

"And so what does he say to me before they go out the door?" Malcolm Hill asks. "He tells me he that promises he won't lay a hand on my daughter."

Everybody laughed.

They went to Nick's Patio for a meal and then back to Corby's for some pool. Brett remembers getting a kiss that night after a great time.

"I think we fell in love on the first date," Chrisa says.

Brett had his girlfriend -- and apparently his soul mate, too.

It didn't bother Chrisa that her steady stood only 2 feet 10 1/2 inches tall.

At one point when they were dating, Brett tried out his prosthetic legs.

"The only reason why he wore them when he was younger was to make others more comfortable around him," Brett's mom, Barb Eastburn, says. "His prosthetics were only for cosmetics, and we eventually decided that people could take us or leave us."

Chrisa apparently felt the same. "He was looking me eye to eye and it was as if he were on stilts," she admits. "I thought it was sort of creepy. I liked him a lot better without them."

He was glad she felt that way.

After a few weeks of dating, Brett sent Chrisa a dozen red roses on her birthday and came up with one of his all-time best jokes.

"I always said that the first guy to send me a dozen roses was the guy I was going to marry," Chrisa recalls.

Brett was the first.

When Brett came over to pick up Chrisa later that night, Malcolm actually carried Brett into the house so he wouldn't have to bother with his wheelchair. (When Brett goes out, he usually uses his manual chair with his guide dog, Murray, pulling him instead of using his 300-pound electric one.)

When the roses were mentioned, Brett said, "Yeah, you will only get roses one more time."

The room grew quiet, and Chrisa's dad even glared at Brett.

Then Brett delivered his punchline: "That's because they cost me an arm and a leg."

Everybody cracked up. "I know that won over my parents," Chrisa says.

"I'm sort of a risk taker when it comes to jokes," Brett says. "I know that sometimes they don't work."

This one obviously did.

"Brett is the best thing that has ever happened to our daughter," Malcolm says.

The Eastburns feel the same away about Chrisa. "I think they complement each other very well," Barb says. "And her family has accepted Brett when I knew there had been parents who didn't want their girls even to go out with Brett."

Chrisa was ready for somebody like Brett.

"I was 23 and needed to settle down. I was going out too much and not always hanging around the right people. Brett said to me, 'We don't need to go out as much.' I told him that sounded fine with me."

"We were both ready," Brett adds.

They were married on May 27, 2000. Murray, Brett's service dog, served as a ringbearer. Brett, of course, can't wear a ring on a finger.

The guests at the North Liberty Church of Christ were wondering what Brett would do with his ring until the minister told Chrisa to put it in his left ear: an earring for a wedding band.

Next Article: Breaking down boundaries

For previous stories in this series, see southbendtribune.com.

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