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Internet Dating Leads to Marriage of Handicapped Couple

A Chinese woman and an American man, both suffering from paraplegia, got married early this month in north China's Baotou city after dating on the Internet across the Pacific for a year.

Hou Lei, 30, the bride, first knew Charlie Bean, her 38-year-old husband, in June last year on the Internet.

Hou graduated from the English department of the Inner Mongolian Normal University in 1992. She became paralyzed in a traffic accident the following year. In 1996 she began teaching local children. Charlie is a community counselor for youngsters in Willow Creek, a small town in central-northern California. He got paraplegia in a car accident when he was eighteen.

In 1998 Hou bought a personal computer and logged on the Internet, getting to know quite a few handicapped people in other countries. In June last year she sent by chance an e-mail to Charlie, thus began their romance in the cyberspace.

"We made frequent exchanges on the Internet in the past year," said Hou, adding that they "chatted" for over two hours every night on the Internet.

"Half a year later we decided on our marriage."

To help Charlie to make the wedding trip to China, his American friends sponsored a fund for him. A newspaper in his hometown called him "ambassador of Willow Creek" and wished his trip to China would be "a start of cultural exchange between the small community and new Chinese friends."

On the wedding day, Hou, in white Qipao (a traditional dress for Chinese women), and Charlie, in traditional Chinese wedding suit made of purple silk, sang the English song My Heart Will Go On, the theme song of the movie Titanic, which brought the wedding to the climax.

Hou's family prepared a room for the couple, and renovated the toilet room so that Charlie can move around in his wheelchair.

"Baotou is a beautiful city. I will teach children English here with Hou Lei," Charlie said at the wedding ceremony.

"I will also try my best to learn to speak Chinese," he said.

(from People's Daily)

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