“I think there’s this underlying perception in society that people with disabilities are not worthy or valuable as romantic partners,” which is not true, Shane Burcaw added, who couldn’t be happier about the woman he had married.
Four years of dating for Hannah Aylward and Shane Burcaw came to an end with a very special day marking the start of the couple’s married life together. The couple share glimpses of their life together with thousands of people following their journey on YouTube and social media.
Sharing the big news, Hannah wrote on Instagram, “On Friday, September 4th, I married the love of my life. It wasn’t the big gathering we had always planned on having, but it was perfect… Shane and I can’t wait to celebrate with our families in person when it’s safe, but for now, we’re husband and wife!!!! And that’s the most important part. I’m incredibly lucky to now be married to the greatest guy I know.
Although it was not the wedding they originally planned, Shane and Hannah couldn’t be happier as he wrote on Instagram, “I married my best friend… I’m beyond happy and smiling a whole lot.”
Through their YouTube channel, Squirmy and Grubs, the couple show their audience what their life is like and together, shattering stereotypes of what it’s like to live using a wheelchair as well as stereotypes surrounding people with disabilities, and about what it is like to be in a relationship with someone using a wheelchair.
Shane has been using a wheelchair since he was two years old, after being diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition, according to TODAY. What they have been showing the world through social media is that there is nothing extraordinary about their relationship; it is plain, simple, normal. Just like other couples, they love each other, take care of each other, and even argue with each other.
“We are not unique,” Shane wrote for TODAY. “Hannah and I are not special… People with disabilities are in fact still human, with emotional wants and needs like everyone else! We hear from interabled couples every day, and the common theme of these messages is simple, yet profound: ‘Our relationship feels so normal! Why can’t the rest of the world see that?'”
Thousands of well wishers who have been following Shane and Hannah’s journey together on YouTube and Instagram were happy to see the couple take the big step, there were some very critical voices that couldn’t be ignored.
Some very mean comments on the wedding photos shared by the couple accused Hannah of being in the relationship just for publicity, or for the money. One person even asked, “Does she also have another partner for having sex with?”
“Getting mean comments is nothing new. I thought that once we were married people would be like, ‘Oh, they’re for real,'” Hannah told PEOPLE (The TV Show!). “Because we would get comments saying, ‘This is fake, it’s for publicity,’ or, ‘She’s using him for money or a YouTube channel,’ or whatever.”
While fans of the couple who have followed their relationship over the years had nothing but positive wishes for them, the barrage of hurtful comments showed how there is still a long way to go for society at large to change their perception. “I think there’s this underlying perception in society that people with disabilities are not worthy or valuable as romantic partners,” Shane said. “And so we’re just trying to show people that our life is normal and silly and fun and disability is a part of it in the ignorance we face, but it doesn’t inhibit our life.”
Now that the newlyweds have tied the knot, they are looking forward to eventually becoming parents as well sometime in the future.
“We totally want to have kids, [but] we’re not quite ready yet,” said Hannah while Shane said, “We go back and forth. Like one week we’re like, ‘We’re ready!’ And then the next week we’re like, ‘Why did we ever think we were ready?'”
While writing for TODAY, Shane cleared up other assumptions that people might have about them having children. “Many of our viewers have wrongly assumed that, by being with me, Hannah is signing up for a life of childless celibacy. This idea is far from the truth. We have a satisfying intimate life, and both of us are interested in having children together down the road… I cannot wait to pull our kids around in a wagon attached to the back of my wheelchair.”