'We'll find a way'


Dori Spittel And Bryan Tempio

July 11, 1999|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Dori Spittel knew Bryan Tempio was the man for her when he offered to take her dancing.

Dori was born with a neuro-muscular disorder that limits the use of her hands and legs. Though she is able to walk, Dori tires easily and often uses crutches or a motorized scooter for mobility.

Early on in their relationship, when Bryan talked about doing the two-step of his native Texas, Dori reminded him that her crutches and scooter would be a hindrance.

Bryan's answer? "We'll find a way."

Bryan's positive attitude has been the hallmark of his relationship with Dori, which began in May 1998, when the couple were introduced by mutual friends.

After exchanging e-mail and some telephone conversations, Dori and Bryan began dating a month later and quickly fell in love. Bryan proposed in September 1998. Though friends and family were surprised -- "And I was shocked myself," Dori says -- she accepted. "It felt right," she says. "Before I met Bryan, I had never [dated] anyone I thought I was in love with. ... It's harder when you have a disability -- not for the person who has the disability, but it's an issue for other people who can't see beyond that."

Bryan and Dori say they had some frank discussions early on about Dori's disease. Dori, fiercely independent, admits that she had a hard time letting Bryan help her and even care for her the way a loving and supportive boyfriend normally would.

But when it came to marriage, Dori and Bryan were clear on one thing: "I'm not here to be Dori's caregiver. I'm here to be her husband," Bryan says.

Bryan's enthusiasm in their relationship is exceeded only by Dori's. In fact, her zest for life attracted Bryan in the first place.

"Dori is someone who has taken life the way it was dealt to her and turned everything around in her favor," Bryan says.

Rather than let her disability limit her community involvement, Dori has used it to raise public awareness. An English teacher at Hammond Middle School in Laurel since 1995, Dori has also served as co-director and adviser of the school's drama club.

A longtime member of the Howard County Commission on Disability Issues, Dori is a sought-after public speaker. In her spare time, she works with Fidos for Freedom, a nonprofit agency that trains service dogs. Dori is also working toward a master's degree in school counseling and guidance at Johns Hopkins University.

Bryan is a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Meade. He moved to the area in 1996 after a nine-year stint in the Army. He has eagerly joined the activities Dori enjoys. Dori, in turn, is learning to like Bryan's sports-minded hobbies. This fall she'll take horseback riding lessons and Bryan is determined to get Dori out on the golf course. The couple also love to travel.

On July 3, Dori, 29, and Bryan, 36, were married at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church in Ellicott City.

The bridesmaids included Dori's sisters, Kristin and Amanda. Bryan's brother, Allen, was his best man and his uncle, Wendell Mc-Andrew was a groomsman.

At their reception at Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center, the couple read a poem they wrote together in honor of their parents, Charles and Linda Spittel of Ellicott City, Madeline Tempio of San Antonio and the late Lt. Col. Norman Tempio.

For Dori and Bryan, one of the highlights of the evening had to be the dancing. The couple shared many romantic slow dances. During some of the more spirited numbers, Bryan simply swung Dori in his arms. Smiling and laughing, the newlyweds danced off into the night to begin their life together.

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