Officer Daniel McDonald (left), Homeless encampment outside Tampa
While combing through the woods outside of Tampa, an observant police officer came across an unusual encampment. When he peeled back a tarp that was covering one of the makeshift structures, he couldn’t believe what he found and took quick action after discovering one couple’s 22-year secret.
After the tragic death of her son in a car crash, Evelyn Adams struggled to cope, and life began to unravel from that day forward. She and her longtime partner through it all, Rocky Barlett, had seen better days, but the bleakest of them has been the last three years. When they lost a child, they also eventually lost everything else in life, except for each other, so they set up refuge in the woods.
With all hope long since lost, the couple had been hiding deep in the wilderness, when Officer Daniel McDonald stumbled on where they had set up their home away from society. As the cop started talking to them to understand their circumstances and how it came to this, he heard the details of their sad life story. He also learned that the two had been together for 22 years, but they never wed, simply for not being able to afford the $93 fee for a marriage license, WFLA reported.
Rocky Barlett (left), Evelyn Adams (right)
The fact that these two had been by each other’s side through some of life’s worst obstacles and were dedicated to one another, but not officially so, broke McDonald’s heart. The officer works as a homeless liaison for the police department and was interested in getting Adams and Barlett out of the woods and into a home, but he also decided to take it several steps further than that.
Word of the couple’s situation hit the local news and vendors from all around this part of Florida came forward, offering to help this homeless woman’s dream come true of becoming Mrs. Barlett. Six weeks after McDonald first found them filthy and depressed in the woods, the couple was barely recognizable on what became their incredible wedding day, thanks to generous Floridians.
“People they’ve never met, who’ve never met them. We had a wedding venue contact me and they wanna host the wedding in Dover and it’s all-inclusive,” McDonald told the news station. “They’re going to do everything. They’ve had an outpouring of support.” he added.
Cross Creek Ranch hosted the beautiful ceremony for the couple, who were treated to what became a $20,000 wedding. The beautiful event was complete with food, flowers, formal attire, and top-notch personal grooming. “This is a dream come true and everybody that has did all this it has just been a dream come true,” the blushing bride said. “No one has ever did this for me and Rocky.”
Mr. & Mrs. Barlett on their wedding day
After over two decades of being together in good times and in bad, Mr. and Mrs. Barlett were now official. Their wedding day marked the first day of the rest of their lives, where things are finally looking up, thanks to the work this caring cop did on their behalf. After they get back from their honeymoon at the Hilton Garden Inn, they will be coming home to a new apartment that McDonald set up for them through the Housing and Urban Development program.
All it took for these two to be lifted out of the worst place in their lives and into a hope-filled future, was one man taking notice. It’s hard to get up from rock bottom, unless someone reaches out their hand to pull you up, which is what an entire community did, starting with one cop.