Football game days are always a big deal on college campuses across America, but for one couple, the moments leading up to Syracuse University's game on Oct. 5, now holds a very special meaning.
Ryan Giarrusso, 29, of Camillus, N.Y., enlisted the help of the university's marching band to pull off quite the elaborate proposal for his longtime girlfriend, Katie Lappin, 27, who is the coach of Syracuse's dance team.
"Every game there's a pregame show in the quad and the band plays a bunch of regular game-day music," Lappin, of Baldwinsville, N.Y., told GoodMorningAmerica.com. "My dancers were out there performing and it was homecoming as well. I had my dancers pull aside, and the band started playing 'Hey! Baby.'"
At that moment, Otto the Orange, the school's mascot, grabbed Lappin, pulling her into the center of the large crowd for a special one-on-one spin on the imaginary dance floor.
"I said, 'No, no, no, don't do this,' but he pulled me to the center," she said. "The girls wanted me to do it. So I was dancing with Otto and I was telling him, 'I can't believe I'm doing this right now.'"
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, Lappin's entire family began positioning themselves right in front of her to ensure they had front row seats for the life-changing event that was about to ensue.
"I said, 'Just dip me and I'm going to leave,'" Lappin said. "But as he dipped me, I saw the band uniform out of the corner of my eye. My girls yelled, 'Coach, look,' and Ryan had taken off the hat that goes with the uniform. He got down on one knee and the rest is history. It was incredible."
The new bride and groom-to-be, both Syracuse fans who have been dating for five years, are giving it some time to let their happy future sink in before making any concrete wedding plans.
"We're just going to take a couple weeks to enjoy it before the actual planning begins," said Lappin, who was crying and shaking as Giarrusso was trying to put the ring on her finger. "The two of us were shaking so bad we didn't know if it was going to happen.
"It was great to have everyone there and I'm so lucky to have such great fans and family. And all my girls kept it a secret. I'm sure it killed them to not tell me," she said. "It makes you realize how lucky you are to have those people surrounding you."