A pit stop, Pearl Jam and a proposal nearly derailed.
This is the story of Jesse Kearney and Amanda Stout, a couple from Selah, Wash., who bought tickets to see their favorite band playing at the Spokane Arena on Saturday.
Stout didn’t know it, but Kearney planned to use the occasion to propose to his girlfriend of 10 months. Nothing elaborate; he wanted to play it by ear, Kearney, 31, said Monday.
He had the ring in a small pouch in his pocket at a rest stop on Interstate 90 in Sprague.
It wasn’t there after they checked into their hotel in Spokane.
“While I was putting on my makeup, I heard Jesse shuffling through stuff,” said Stout, 28. “The shuffling through stuff didn’t stop – it became more intense.”
Kearney said, “I started tearing apart the room.”
Kearney told her he’d lost $50. Stout knew it was something else.
“I finally broke down and told her what happened,” Kearney said. “I was crying because I felt bad because it was her dad’s ring.” The couple had used Stout’s mother’s diamond and chosen a new setting for it, they said.
Stout said, “My biggest concern was how it was going to make him feel. I didn’t want him to feel bad about what happened. He’s not a careless person.”
They drove back to the rest stop and enlisted the help of the Washington State Patrol to look for the ring, but it wasn’t there. Kearney left his phone number with a volunteer who was selling snacks to raise money for the West Valley High School marching band.
Kearney and Stout went ahead to the Pearl Jam concert, but “I wasn’t having any fun at that point,” Kearney said. Then his phone rang.
A band volunteer said the ring had been dropped into the band boosters’ donation box and volunteers found it when they were counting money. The band boosters said they’d keep the ring safe until the couple passed by the rest stop on their way home Sunday.
“I hadn’t even proposed yet,” Kearney said.
He rectified that by using his class ring. She said yes and they plan to marry in San Diego in October.
When they stopped Sunday to pick up the ring, Kearney dropped all his remaining cash, $60, into the band donations jar over the protests of the band parents. The fundraising will help the West Valley band play in a parade at Disneyland, volunteer Lisa Freeman said.
“They were a nice young couple,” Freeman said.
Though not quite the proposal he’d envisioned, Kearney said, “it’s still special. It was just a long roller-coaster ride getting there.”