When Manny and Jan came into a New Jersey Red Cross shelter days after Sandy hit, it was their 38th wedding anniversary. They had tried to wait out the storm in a nearby attic, as waves flooded their home in their beloved Seaside Heights, NJ. In the end, the couple needed to seek shelter and food on a day when they should have been celebrating.
Last night, the couple were given a proper, belated anniversary dream date with the help of ABC’s The Bachelorette. Bachelorette Desiree Hartsock and contestant James Case forfeited their dream date for Manny and Jan, after hearing the couple’s tragic story and seeing their gutted home.
During last night’s episode, as Desiree and James enjoyed dinner in “a dive,” Manny and Jan had a private, candlelit dinner in The Foundation Room and danced to a private concert from music artist and Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet Member, Darius Rucker.
Can Manny & Jan get their own spin-off, please? #thebachelorette
— Paige Vigil (@paigevigil) June 18, 2013
At the Red Cross, it’s hard to resist a plea for hope. So, here are 10 things you may not know about the beloved Manny and Jan:
- For much of their life, Seaside Heights had been only a vacation destination for Manny and Jan.
- Manny bought Jan a home there as a romantic surprise.
- When Manny and Jan came to the NJ shelter, Red Cross volunteers arranged a candlelit dinner to give them hope and normalcy on their anniversary.
- One week after the storm, police lifted the curfew and allowed home owners four hours to access their houses to collect some personal belongings. Manny and Jan got their wedding photo album with the time they had.
- The volunteer who restored the couple’s damaged wedding photo album is Jane Bowden. She left her home in Florida to volunteer during Sandy on a deployment assignment.
- Manny is a huge fan of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, so when he saw Desiree in Seaside Heights it took his breath away.
- When this episode was filmed, the couple had moved 4 times to temporary locations during their recovery.
- They both describe being married to the other as “easy,” but also acknowledged that “it takes work.”
- To keep the dream date a surprise, The Bachelorette made arrangements through the Red Cross and Manny and Jan’s son, Frankie. As the filming approached, Jan started to worry about why her son was receiving so many secret calls from ladies.
- Manny and Jan’s story is one of many that red cross volunteers draw on for inspiration and hope when they face the despair in disasters.