We are all suckers for a great love story, so when Tyler Kitzman, OD, a cornea contact lens resident, reached out to us for help proposing to his girlfriend, Halie Cottrill, OD, also an optometry resident specializing in low vision and geriatrics, we were eager to help.
“Optometry is the reason we met, it’s how we bonded, and it’s a special connection that we share as a couple. When thinking of ways to make the engagement special for us, I brainstormed different ideas and decided to incorporate our passion for optometry into the day,” explained Tyler.
The pair met while second year students at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, cementing their bond first as study partners, before beginning to date during their third year. The pair survived all three sections of National Boards, graduating together in 2016. Since then, Tyler has pursued his residency at Northeastern State University of Oklahoma College of Optometry in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, while Halie pursued hers at the Birmingham VA Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama.
Inspired by their optometry school love story, our Marketing Manager, Jake Iselin, brainstormed with Tyler how we could make the day special. Initially, Tyler was envisioning just a Volk lens case to hold the ring, but Jake knew Volk could do better than that. Jake took their ideas to Karen Piendzik, Non-Contact Lens Supervisor, who is in charge of manufacturing and assembly of our BIO and slit lamp lenses, as well as the person who crafts all of our custom lens engraving. She’s the point person Volk depends on whenever we need something special to happen.
What we created was a custom BIO lens ring. Instead of our usual glass optics, the lens ring held a tailor-made cushion to cradle the engagement ring Tyler had chosen for Halie. Instead of the usual Volk engraving around the side, it read, “Halie, will you marry me? Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen…” The special lens ring and cushion were placed in a Volk lens case to emulate a traditional ring box. We made both a gold and a silver lens ring so Tyler could choose the one that he liked best with the engagement ring.
Tyler chose the silver BIO lens to compliment the beautiful ring he picked for Halie.
Tyler also wanted to incorporate another shared passion into his proposal: long distance running, to which Halie introduced him. The pair had completed a road race series and two half marathons together, before deciding they were ready to tackle a full marathon in December. They chose the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, Tennessee. Returning to the city where they met, which has also become the halfway meeting point in their current long distance relationship, seemed a perfect setting. They are also great admirers of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and wished to support and raise awareness for it.
After finishing the 26.2 miles together with an impressive 3:53:31 time, Tyler pulled out the Volk lens case, dropped to one knee, and popped the big question. Halie replied with a resounding “Yes!” in front of an audience of family and friends waiting at the finish line-another surprise Tyler had arranged.
Initially, Halie “was too overcome by the proposal to understand the case right away; BUT after, she loved it!” reported Tyler. “And all of our optometry friends were blown away!”
Tyler’s proposal was captured by a photographer from the local paper, the Commercial Appeal, which ran a quarter page photo of the moment on the front page the next day.
Tyler and Halie rocking their St. Jude wear, posing with their front page spread.
A better look at that front page picture depicting the special moment. (Used with permission; © Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal/ZUMAPRESS.com).
The couple have already set a wedding date: July 2, 2017. They will return once again to Memphis and hold their reception where their love story began-at the Southern College of Optometry.
Everyone at Volk wishes Tyler and Halie a lifetime of happiness together! Thank you for letting us be a part of your special story!