(2015 Pro-Life Oratory Contest Prize Winners and March for Life Attendees)
The Right to Life Oratory Contest is a terrific opportunity for local youth to learn more about life issues, to hone their pro-life arguments, and to gain public-speaking experience. For two 2015 participants, the contest had a more unexpected—and life-changing—consequence. Erin Gaerke and Nathan Platfoot’s story begins on the March for Life bus trip in January 2015. Nathan, a junior at Botkins High School, found himself amid a sea of Russia High School students, and he met a lot of new people, including a pretty, blond junior with whom he had only a brief interaction. “She remembers it; I don’t,” he confesses.
In February, their paths crossed again, as competitors in the RTL oratory contest. They both made a good showing: Nathan won second place and Erin came in third. This time, their encounter was more memorable. Through a common friend, Nathan was reintroduced to Erin. “We really hit it off and had a great conversation,” she recalls. They exchanged contact information and eventually Erin asked Nathan to Russia’s prom. Nathan reciprocated for the Botkins prom and the relationship was off and running.
By the time the 2016 oratory contest rolled around, the two were dating—but still competitors at the podium. Now both seniors, Erin took first place and Nathan was again second. The turnabout has been the cause of some playful banter between the two. “I beat him by a larger margin than he beat me,” Erin points out. “I was more consistent,” Nathan replies.
It’s appropriate that an RTL event was the springboard for their courtship. Nathan, the son of Richard and Joyce Platfoot, and Erin, the daughter of Jason and Judie Gaerke, were both raised in strongly pro-life, devoutly Catholic families. They agree that this common background provided a solid foundation for their relationship.
After high school, Erin and Nathan continued their studies at the Ohio State University, where they will graduate next May. At the beginning of the summer following their third year, they went backpacking in Germany, where Nathan proposed and Erin accepted. They will be married at St. Remy Church in September 2020. Congratulations, Nathan and Erin!