ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — In cell phone video captured at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Nick Stidham welcomed his girlfriend, registered nurse Carly Preston, back home from New York.

She worked at a Manhattan hospital for six weeks, helping with the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients.

When she arrived at the airport, in a surprise move, Stidham, a local chemistry teacher, got down on one knee and proposed.

Nick Stidham welcomed his girlfriend, registered nurse Carly Preston, back home from New York where she worked at a Manhattan hospital for six weeks, helping with the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients.  In a surprise move, Stidham, a local chemistry teacher, got down on one knee and proposed.

Nick Stidham welcomed his girlfriend, registered nurse Carly Preston, back home from New York where she worked at a Manhattan hospital for six weeks, helping with the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients. In a surprise move, Stidham, a local chemistry teacher, got down on one knee and proposed.

Family members were in on the surprise, and they showed up with a welcome home sign for their healthcare hero. On the back of that sign was the million dollar question: “Will you marry me?”

Nick and Carly shared the details of that special moment in a Zoom interview with CW69.

“I’m still kind of speechless from the whole thing, because emotions are already high,” she said. “I turned the corner and immediately started crying when I saw him and I saw my mom.”

”I was so nervous and, not worried about her response, but just worried about it coming together,” said Nick. And it came together beautifully.

The Atlanta-area couple met through the Internet. Nick is from Gwinnett County, and Carly is from Gainesville. After a year and a half of dating, he decided to make it official. And she said, “Yes.”

“I knew that we were really serious, and it was just kind of knowing the right timing,” Nick said.

“It’s everything that any little girl dreams of, and then some,” said Carly.

They said it was so hard being apart while she was in New York, and just thinking about critically-ill coronavirus patients stirs up her emotions.

“I went up there with the mindset that we’re not gonna be able to save everybody, but if I can be a presence for one patient that didn’t have to die alone without a family, then I did my job,” said Carly, tearing up.

She says her tears also reflect the joy of helping patients and bonding with other front line workers.

“They’re not just co-workers, they’re family now,” she said.

The couple has already set a wedding date of June 30, with plans to have close family members in attendance and a way for friends to attend virtually.

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