Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011 | 2 a.m.
When Evan Faircloth met Amy Balogh a little over three years ago at South Hills Church's college group, he felt a way he never had before.
“Honestly, I was blown away by how beautiful she was,” said Faircloth.
But he didn’t really get to know her until they went on a mission with the church to Africa. Faircloth said it was there that he realized that she was The One. They began dating earlier this year and after seven months, Faircloth was ready to propose.
“Some people might look at it and say we’re moving too fast, going too soon, but I know I want to spend the rest of my life with her,” he said.
Faircloth planned a proposal. He bought a ring. And then one morning, he heard an announcer on 90.5 FM mention something about an engagement contest. He immediately emailed the radio station, saying that he would love help proposing to his girlfriend.
That led to his meeting with Suzanne Lea, the founder of In12 Days, a volunteer-based project aiming to bring the 12 days of Christmas to unsuspecting people in the Las Vegas Valley.
“The very first email that came in was Evan’s email,” said Lea. “The minute that I saw it I just fell in love with him and thought, ‘He’s the one for Day Five.’”
In12 Days was created three years ago when Lea lost her husband, Bryan, to a sudden heart attack.
In the 12 days before Christmas 2008 without her husband, Lea and her two young sons received surprise gifts that corresponded to the "12 Days of Christmas." Every day anonymous donors were trying to lift their spirits. It worked, and Lea has been returning the favor ever since.
Lea and her family received bagels and donuts to symbolize "five golden rings," but she had a bigger plan for Faircloth and Balogh.
With the help of Las Vegas jeweler Michael E. Minden, Southwest Airlines and Executive Limousines, Lea and a team of volunteers created an over-the-top proposal.
The plan: for the whole family to emerge from a limousine and surprise Balogh at her front door Saturday morning, where Faircloth would propose to her with a ring made for her by Minden.
Amy’s mother, Sue Balogh, was thrilled to learn Southwest Airlines would fly her in for free from Reno to witness the proposal.
“It was a blessing,” said Sue Balogh. “For a whole week I haven’t talked to (Amy) and yesterday she called me three times. And I’m trying to get to the airport and I’m trying not to slip up (and ruin the surprise.)”
Everyone was nervous Saturday. As the time drew near Sue Balogh and her other children, Faircloth, his parents and Minden piled into a black stretch limousine to go to Amy Balogh's home.
It was Faircloth’s two friends who knocked on the door and asked Balogh to come outside and walk down a red carpet to the street.
One by one, family members came out of the limo and hugged a stunned and confused Amy. Then Faircloth emerged. He embraced her and told her how much he loved her. The family went silent in anticipation of what was coming next.
Faircloth turned to the limousine driver, who opened the door for for the last passenger — Minden and the engagement ring, which he had resting on a red velvet pillow.
Faircloth took the ring and got down on one knee. The proposal was brief; her answer a whisper.
Amy Balogh said yes.
“I didn’t really know what it was,” said Balogh, who didn't know what was going on until the very end. “This is all just so nuts. We’ve talked about getting married, but I thought he wasn’t going to propose for probably, I don’t know, until the summer or something. I didn’t know it was going to be today, that’s for sure.”
As part of the In12 Days program, she had been receiving little gifts for the past few days but thought maybe the group had the wrong house. She was ecstatic to receive the proposal.
As for the ring, Amy said she is more than pleased.
“I love it, but I love him more,” said Balogh. “It could have been anything ... but beautiful, it’s gorgeous… it’s from him.”