EDMOND, Okla. -- Kathy Smith was the baby of the bunch –a daddy's girl from the very beginning- and her father was her “shoulder.”
“He loved to jog, garden and country and western music. He was just an awesome man," Smith remembered.
About 12 years ago, the awesome man she knew began to slowly slip away.
Like 5.5 millions Americans of all ages, John Krizer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
“I will never forget the first time I attended the walk,” said Smith. “When they come over the bridge and I could see flowers peaking up over the bridge, talk about a flood. That was a powerful moment. “
Little did Kathy know, that difficult situation would be the catalyst to a blooming relationship.
You see, Kathy posted a picture of that day on her rarely used Match.comm profile.
“Her dad was holding the flower that he had Alzheimer's," Tyler Smith told News 4.
It caught Tyler's attention, who thoughtfully pecked out a letter.
“The message line was flowers and addictions," he said.
The addiction? They both craved junk food. The flowers? Each had a parent living with Alzheimer's. Tyler's mom, Brenda Sue, was fading quickly.
“Sadly, it`s a shell of the person who used to be there. It robs the person of the person," Smith said.
Tyler and Kathy met within the week and their love was the closest thing to magic.
“Yep, engaged three weeks later," Tyler said.
Throughout their first year of marriage, they were put through an emotional wringer. Smith shared,
“Being pregnant for one of the funerals. Her dad did get to hold our son, his grandson, but he had no clue what was going on. He passed away weeks later. It was a rough year," Tyler said.
These days, the Smiths devote their time, resources and voice to an often misunderstood disease.
“There's still a big question mark on people`s face when they hear Alzheimer's. It`s tied in with being senile. It`s a death sentence and there has not been one survivor," Tyler Smith said.
The Smiths have a unique love connection and a shared passion for a cure to a cruel disease.