Back in September of 1982 at Thomas S. Wooton High School in Rockville, MD, a lifelong romance began when a perky cheerleader gave a tall, lanky teenage boy a surprise peck on the cheek, setting his heart aflutter.
Todd Morris, 37, now a V.P. at Orion Scientific in McLean, was sitting in French class when his future-wife, Cecilia de Perio, now 36, and a nurse at INOVA Fair Oaks hospital, approached him. "That was enough for a 17-year-old boy with raging hormones!" said Todd.
Todd and Cecilia, residents of The Preserve community in Chantilly, have been married for more than 10 years, and have two children, Brian, 7, and Ana, 3. They feel as strongly about each other now as they did back in the early days of their courtship.
With many mutual acquaintances in high school, the two became close friends prior to becoming love interests. They hung out, ate pizza together — did all the typical teenage activities.
Then one warm sunny day, recalls Todd, "We were both there after school. I was just leaving in my shiny light blue MGB convertible with about 200,000 miles on it, which I drove to school everyday even though you could see Wooton from the doorstep of my home," he said. "Cecilia came over in her cheerleading outfit to ask me for a ride home. It was then that I first witnessed Cecilia's fun and effervescent personality," he said.
"After I apologized for the poor-quality Lucas sound system radio, Cecilia said, 'Don't worry, I'll just sing.' Cecilia is out there, she's different, she wears her personality on her sleeve," says Todd. "She doesn't try to be clever or cool with people. What you see is what you get."
The couple married in September of 1992 at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Potomac, MD, after a prolonged engagement. Despite their lengthy relationship, they waited one and a half years for Todd's parents to return from Italy, where they were stationed overseas. The couple's love has stood the tests of time and distance. They attended different colleges, he at Vanderbilt, in Tennessee, she at Georgetown.
Cecilia says their strong relationship has endured because she and her husband are so close and "like to do things together such as skiing and hiking."
Before having children, they were often like ships passing in the night because Todd worked during the day and Cecilia worked the night shift as a NICU nurse.
Their special friendship has flourished and blossomed into an eternal love.