Taking a leap, landing in love

JUST MARRIED

Stephanie Lee And Ken Ching

July 30, 2000|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

When love found Stephanie Lee it came hurtling through the sky in the form of a handsome man who almost didn't survive the trip. Stephanie met Ken Ching three years ago while they were learning to sky-dive. Ken, a computer network engineer, and a business acquaintance had decided to try sky-diving. Stephanie, who happened to be dating the business acquaintance, was one of many other people the two men invited, but only Stephanie -- whose philosophy is, "Try anything once" -- was game.

One of her biggest reservations about the adventure was not jumping out of a plane, but that she would have to share the experience with some businessman she didn't know.

Discussing the coming trip with family and friends, Stephanie, who grew up in Loch Raven Village and was in nursing school, complained about Ken, this unknown guy who would be accompanying them.

"I was expecting this middle-aged, fat, bald computer guy," Stephanie, 30, says. "Then Ken shows up. ... I was like, 'Whoa.' "

The three spent the weekend outside Philadelphia taking intensive parachuting instruction, only to have conditions become so windy that they couldn't jump.

Determined, they returned the next weekend. Stephanie, jumping in tandem with an instructor, had a great experience.

Ken, 33, had some difficulty with his jump. He had trouble assuming the correct body position as they began free-falling, and he and the instructor he was tethered to began spinning. The instructor and Ken soon righted themselves, but it was frightening, Ken says.

The car trip home was better. The guy Stephanie was dating had been called away on business earlier, so it was just Ken and Stephanie fighting the traffic on Interstate 95. They had a great time.

Stephanie, who wasn't too serious about the other guy, found herself trying to figure out a way to get Ken's phone number. She decided to send him photos she'd taken of his jump. She mailed the pictures with a card and her phone number -- and got no response.

Ken says now that he was interested, but didn't want to pursue Stephanie while she was dating his business acquaintance. Even when the other guy made it clear he and Stephanie were not seriously involved, Ken remained aloof.

He thought Stephanie was just being polite by staying in touch.

"I've never made the first move on a man in my life," Stephanie says. "But Ken made me call him three times before I could get a 'maybe' from him to meet."

They finally did meet again, and from there, their relationship progressed. Their courtship had a decidedly outdoor theme as the couple took ski trips together and also joined their respective families for beach vacations.

Last September, while skiing in Canada, they found themselves stuck on a cliff with no easy way down the mountain.

Ken told Stephanie to take off her skis, and he carried her down the trail. It was a harrowing experience, and Ken was afraid that it might ruin the rest of the vacation. But he didn't need to worry. That night, when he proposed, Stephanie said yes.

On June 24, Stephanie and Ken wed at Epworth United Methodist Church in Cockeysville.

The leap into matrimony was easy for the couple who had already jumped out of an airplane and found their way down perilous ski runs.

Stephanie and Ken have never gone sky-diving again, and they have no plans to. For them, they say, strapping on a parachute -- like marriage -- is something best experienced only once.

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