It was a life changing run for Chicago Police Sgt. Mike Nowacki, his girlfriend and a complete stranger with perfect timing.
The 19-year-veteran of the Chicago Police Department and SWAT medic, Nowacki, was all set to propose to his girlfriend of several years, Chicago Police Officer Erin Gubala, at Sunday’s Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Run, who was waiting at the finish line of the 9-mile race, but as he was approaching the end, something else was about to happen.
“I hear people screaming, ‘medic, medic,’” Nowacki said. “As a police officer, we go toward the sound of gunfire and then as a SWAT medic we also have that instinct to go toward the sound of someone calling ‘medic.’”
Gubala heard her boyfriend’s call sign saying he was administering CPR, which made her nervous wondering what the outcome would be in the life-or-death situation. “Before I knew it he was running at me, crossing the finish line,” she said. “He got down on one knee and I thought that he was hurt, and then he said, ‘Erin, I don’t know what to say,’ and then I realized what was going on…”
Nowacki said, “Will you marry me?” but it was a blur for the couple. Gubala added: “I finally did say yes.”
“It was definitely a serendipitous moment,” Nowacki said. “Because if I had run a little bit slower or a little bit faster I never would’ve encountered the young lady,” and turning to his fiance, he added, “and then she had to say yes after that.”
The two are gearing up for their “simple” wedding, and Nowacki said he surely would not wear SWAT gear on the big day.