Meet Shane Burcaw and Hannah Aylward. Shane has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Hannah doesn’t. And their message is: That doesn’t get in the way of being together.
So they’ve taken to YouTube to document their love for one another to normalize interabled couples.
Cue all the heart emojis!
What is SMA?
Affecting approximately 1 in 10,000 people, spinal muscular atrophy is a rare genetic disorder that causes mild to severe muscle weakness and degeneration. The types of spinal muscular atrophy vary based on severity and age the condition was developed.
Most cases of spinal muscular atrophy are caused by a mutation in the SMN1 gene. This prompts a loss of motor neurons, a certain type of nerve cell, in the spinal cord and brainstem. The loss results in weak and atrophied muscles, particularly those used in crawling, walking, sitting up, moving the head and, depending on severity, breathing and swallowing.
‘Squirmy and Grubs’
So how did these love birds meet?
Shane was featured in a 2013 documentary called “My Last Day,” produced by actor Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office). Hannah stumbled across the video on YouTube and was intrigued.
We can’t blame you, Hannah! He’s a cutie with sharp wit!
After learning more about him, Hannah sent him a short introductory email, “like a stalker” (as Shane says later). Upon receipt, Shane was curious to know more and replied with his phone number. The two texted and FaceTimed until meeting for the first time in May 2016.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Then, in June of 2018, they began YouTubing about their daily life together to normalize dating with a disability. They named their YouTube channel Squirmy and Grubs after their nicknames for one another.
“I think if people could see how boringly and horribly normal it is, that would probably be good,” notes Hannah.
And Shane added:
“That would like single-handedly reduce the stigma around disability, if they just saw how boring our life was.”
Their videos often get over a million views, and honestly after a few minutes of watching this maddeningly cute couple, you understand that their relationship extends far beyond the physical differences.
You just see love.
And best part? They just got engaged in June!
Cheers to the engaged couple!