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Photos submitted Vincent Brandys and Leeann Starr, winners of 22nd Century Media’s How We Met Contest, attend a recent Milwaukee Brewers game together.
Brandys and Starr attend their junior year homecoming dance.
Eric DeGrechie, Editor
8:45 am CST February 14, 2020

We meet new people every day in any number of ways. 

Some encounters are brief. Maybe it’s the person serving us coffee on the way to work or the random stranger we bump into while buying groceries at the store. Most of the time, our exchanges with these strangers are positive with both parties going about their day without much thought about the encounter after the fact. 

In much rarer cases, we might meet someone that changes our lives forever. If it’s a significant other, this first meeting is something we’ll never forget for the rest of our lives. 

At 22nd Century Media, we currently hold six contests every year, so roughly one every two months. We sometimes talk about adding new ones, but most of the six we’ve been running for many years. 

Our How We Met Contest is always one of the most popular that we run. This year was no different. 

Since we launched the contest last month through the conclusion on Friday, Feb. 7, we’ve received plenty of quality entries across our seven publications: The Wilmette Beacon, The Winnetka Current, The Glencoe Anchor, The Glenview Lantern, The Northbrook Tower, The Highland Park Landmark and The Lake Forest Leader. Every love story is unique and special, so choosing a winner is very difficult per usual. 

In the end, our editorial team selected the entry of Glenview’s Vince Brandys and Leeann Starr, as submitted by Vince. Congratulations!

Vince and Leeann will receive two tickets to Blue Man Group at the Briar Theatre in Chicago and a dozen roses from Morning Glory Flower Shop (locations at 1135 Central Ave., Wilmette and 1822 Glenview Road, Glenview). Thanks to both for the generous prizes. 

Stay tuned for our next contest — Mother’s Day Essay contest in May. 

Here is the winning entry from Vince Brandys:

Our story covers 40 years. 

I met my wife growing up on the Southside of Chicago. Leeann attended the local public high school while I attended an all-boys Catholic School. We dated for a short period of time with the highlight being my homecoming dance junior year.

Later that summer, we broke up, finished high school and moved away from the neighborhood to attend different colleges. 

Before Leeann left for college, I stopped by her house to give her an essay that I wrote with her in mind. As part of my senior year, we had to take a class called Marriage. One of the goals was to educate young men as to what challenges relationships pose in our lives and how important it was to pick the right person to marry. 

Without mentioning her by name in the essay but describing her personality and characteristics, I wanted her to know how much I respected and admired her, realizing that we would probably never see each other again as our paths would go divergent ways. 

Ten years ago, through the power of social media, I was able to reconnect with Leeann. And it turned out she kept the essay! 

We had both been married and divorced and had children who are now grown, still searching for someone to share the rest of our life with.

Even though her family had moved and sold their home, I thought it would be romantic if I proposed to her on the front steps of that house, since that was the last place I saw her prior to us reconnecting. I was able to reach the owner and get her approval to propose.

I made up a story about why we needed to head back to the old neighborhood, and once we got near the house, I slowly convinced her to exit the car and walk up on those steps. I think she knew something was coming — she said yes to my proposal!

On Sept. 13, 2013, at Promontory Point located on Lake Michigan on the southside of Chicago, we got married with our kids, family and friends present.

We have lived in Glenview since May of 2013. We have a blended family of six adult kids, one grandson, three cats, and two dogs in Valley Lo North, enjoying all that Glenview has to offer including the park district, restaurants, library and golf courses.