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Native proposes to girlfriend at White House

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Rocky Mount native Justin Sykes recently proposed to Bridget Haley at the White House in Washington, D.C.

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From Contributed Reports

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bridget Haley and Justin Sykes have been together for more than five years.

The first two or three of those years they lived in different states, Haley in New Jersey finishing up nursing school and Sykes in North Carolina finishing law school. So they would drive back and forth at least once a month.

Eventually, they both graduated and decided that Washington, D.C., was the perfect half-way point between their respective home states, not to mention they loved the city and had family and friends there.

Sykes now works for a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., and Haley works at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown and is also enrolled in graduate school at Georgetown.

So D.C. has become this symbol of their relationship, meeting in the middle and creating their life together in the nation’s capitol — which is why the White House seemed like the best location to cement their relationship in a city that has given them so much.

Haley’s cousin Haley Van Dyck works at the White House in the West Wing. She and her friend, Matt, who also works in the White House, began planning with Sykes a surprise marriage proposal a few months back.

They did a dry run tour in February and chose the location. Van Dyck scheduled the tour for 5:15 p.m., so now all Sykes had to do was create a reason to get Haley to go.

So he made up a fake White House reception invitation to a reception his organization was throwing, which Sykes thought was the reason they were going.

Sykes told Haley as an added bonus her cousin had been kind enough to offer to give them a tour of the West Wing before the 7 p.m. reception.

Sykes’ photographer, Michael Kennedy, showed up at the White House at 4:30 p.m. to do a run through with Van Dyck and Matt. Kennedy posed as Van Dyck and Matt’s friend so no red flags would go off, and he would join Haley and Sykes on the tour under that pretense.

So the couple arrived at 5 p.m. for the tour, Kennedy was already inside and waiting with his camera set.

They did the tour of the West Wing and as they exited the West Wing onto the North Lawn and before they rounded the corner to go to the Press Briefing room — the last stop on the tour — Sykes took her by the hand, and said “Won’t it be amazing to tell our children one day that we got engaged at the White House?”

Haley’s face went blank, and then Sykes dropped to one knee and said “Bridget Lois Haley, will you marry me?” Overcome with excitement, Haley stood choked up for a few seconds and eventually took the ring screaming “Yes, of course!”

Afterward, Van Dyck brought out champagne bottles and Presidential Office cups and they popped champagne and toasted on the North Lawn of the White House.

“It was amazing,” Sykes said.

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