By Frank Vascellaro

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — COVID-19 concerns couldn’t keep a local couple from starting a new chapter this weekend, and their socially-distanced engagement celebration may have meant even more to one Minnesota mother.

For the first time in months, it was supposed to be a date night out on the town. But when 29-year-old Maggie Erickson pulled up to St. Paul’s Neighborhood Cafe on Friday she knew this was different.

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“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Erickson said. “I was crying in the car and out of the car there were rose petals inside.”

Aidan Kilgannon, 25, has worked there for three years. The couple, both of whom have Down syndrome, met seven months ago.

“I always wanted to have it at my workplace,” Kilgannon said. “I felt she was the one.”

Kilgannon said he had been planning every last detail since they first met.

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“He said he couldn’t wait. He got down on one knee and asked me,” Erickson said.

The moment may have meant even more to Erickson’s mother. Cathy Erickson raised her daughter as a single mother, and refused to set limits on what she could do.

“In our case, Maggie has developed substantial independence,” she said.

Now, in her final stages of her own fight against stage four pancreatic cancer, Cathy Erickson couldn’t be more proud of the young woman she raised. A fever has put her back in the hospital for now, but her vow is to do all she can to be there the day her determined daughter takes her walk down the aisle.

“I just couldn’t imagine not being here because I enjoy our life so much,” she said. “I know she’s ready. I just have to make sure I’m ready.”

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The couple has bought a house in Apple Valley. They plan to move in together next month. Maggie Erickson works at the Dakota County courthouse and also as a ticket taker for Minnesota Twins games.

Frank Vascellaro