Perched on the rafters of the Georgia Dome, ready to drop parachuting stuffed cows, Maggie Smyth’s heart was racing.
Smyth said she was “scared out of her mind” being up so high.
Steven Hammond — also way up there — was a bit nervous and excited, too. But his feelings had little to do with heights. His emotions had been stirred by meeting Smyth.
Smyth and Hammond were among the roughly 50 people who were known as the “Aerial Assault Team,” charged with releasing 3,000 miniature Chick-Fil-A plush cows to kick off last year’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Smyth, who works for Chick-Fil-A, volunteered to be part of the big cow drop. Hammond, who was employed by Chick-Fil-A years earlier, was asked at the last minute to participate when a former colleague spotted him tailgating before the Georgia Tech-LSU game.
Up on the rafters, Hammond calmed Smyth, telling her “don’t worry” and “you’re doing great.”
After returning safely to the ground level of the Dome, Hammond, who lives in Fort Lauderdale and works as a distribution engineer for Publix, learned Smyth had a business trip there the following week. It was the opening he was looking for. He asked for her number.
That week they went on three consecutive dates. They took scenic drives. They watched the national championship football game. And they took a moonlit walk on the beach. They learned they shared many of the same interests: Both enjoy hiking and traveling and curling up on the couch with a good book.
When they dined at a Chick-Fil-A very early into their courtship, they also learned they had something else in common. They always order the same thing: a No. 1 combo (chicken sandwich, waffle fries, Coke), no pickles.
Even now, they often eat Chick-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A is also a family affair. Hammond’s dad and brother are co-managers of a Chick-Fil-A in Atlanta.
Last month, they got married. Little plush Chick-Fil-A cows dressed up like a bride and groom took center stage on a gift table. All 250 guests received their own stuffed cow as a wedding favor.
This New Year’s Eve, they will watch the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in the comfort of their apartment in Fort Lauderdale.
Watching the cows drop will bring them back to where it all started.
“I will think the Lord perfectly orchestrated our introduction and put us there to begin our new life together,” Smyth said.
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