GV alum competes for NORTH POLE WEDDING

Courtesy Photo / April Chernoby
April Chernoby in Antarctica climbing Spigots Peak on Christmas morning

Courtesy Photo / April Chernoby April Chernoby in Antarctica climbing Spigot’s Peak on Christmas morning

Samantha Butcher

Blushing brides-to-be often feel on top of the world as they plan their weddings, but Grand Valley State University alum April Chernoby isn’t content with a mere feeling. Chernoby, a self-described adventure junkie and world traveler, wants to get married on the top of the world, literally and figuratively, in a North Pole wedding.
Chernoby and her fiancé, Paul Kiewiet, are competing for a trip for two to the North Pole in the Quark Expeditions “Blog Your Way to the North Pole” contest. The couple is currently in sixth place, with less than 100 votes separating them from a Top 5 spot. To be considered for the trip, they must be ranked fifth or better by Feb. 14.
“We are the Bonnie and Clyde of adventure,” Chernoby said. “We live in the moment together. Discovering each more and more everyday and enjoying a life of discovery and adventure together. For example, we recently climbed the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower in Chicago) for charity and last weekend did polar plunge together in Lake Michigan. The North Pole wedding would be the ultimate adventure, unique and unforgettable.”
Kiewiet and Chernoby’s relationship has taken them on an unlikely adventure around the globe, but it began with a Craigslist transaction. Chernoby purchased a “Phantom of the Opera” ticket from Kiewiet over the website. Sparks flew.
“Prior to the show we decided to meet for dinner so I could get the ticket I had bought,” she said. “Following dinner we attended the musical together, sitting next to each other during the show. Afterward we’d both said we’d like to meet each other again. Thus the love story began.”
The trip takes place from June 22 to July 8, and the couple is eyeing a July 4 wedding date. If they win, they plan to dress as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and pass out elf hats to other passengers aboard their Russian icebreaker ship.
By day, Chernoby is an eighth-grade history teacher in Belding, Mich., but Chernoby is anything but a small-town girl. With a goal of travelling to all seven continents before she turns 30, the North Pole wedding would be another notch in Chernoby’s belt. It would also place her on both ends of the world within eight months – Chernoby spent time in December in Antarctica with the same travel company who is hosting the contest.
“This trip would be particularly unique for me because having just returned from Antarctica over Christmas I would be at the top and bottom of the world in one year,” she said. “Combined, we’ve traveled to over 30 countries and six continents.”
Chernoby said the support from students, teachers and families from Belding has been incredible. If she wins, Chernoby plans to bring a piece of Belding with her to the top of the world.
“I created a huge banner with the Belding Area Schools logo that students and staff have been signing after they vote,” she said. “There are over a hundred signatures on it so far. If I win I’ll bring the sign with me to the North Pole to be photographed and hung in the school.”
GVSU students have also been extremely supportive, Chernoby said. She has earned a reputation on campus as “the North Pole girl.”
“At first, most people are shocked when I ask if they will vote for me to get married on the North Pole,” she said. “The shock is usually followed by a huge smile and words of encouragement and congratulations.”
Chernoby and Kiewiet have launched a social media campaign in the hopes of making their dream a reality, implementing YouTube and Facebook to spread the word to friends, families and strangers. If the couple does not win, they are eyeing some place warmer – but still unconventional – for their summer wedding.
“Winning this trip would be the wedding of a lifetime,” she said. “I believe we would be the third couple in history to get married on the North Pole. It would also mean starting an exciting new life together, setting an expectation of continued adventure and discovery for the rest of our lives.”
To vote for the couple, visit www.northpolewedding.com. Voting will continue through Feb. 14.
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