Kevin Sorbo was born into a no-nonsense romantic legacy, and he determined early he would fulfill it in his own life.
Lynn, Kevin’s dad, spied Ardis across the rollerskating rink and headed straight for her. Ardis was only a month from graduation when she accepted this strapping college boy’s invitation to skate, but she deftly avoided giving him her phone number. That wasn’t proper in those days, even if you knew right away you were destined to be together.
The next week, Principal Buck summoned Ardis to his office. Her study hall classmates whispered speculations as Ardis anxiously exited the classroom. Confused, she took the heavy black phone receiver Buck offered her and asked, “Hello, is this Paul?” Lynn was perturbed, but undaunted. “I happen to be nearby and I wondered if I might pick you up and take you home.” She accepted and never dated another man again.
For her high school graduation, he gave her a beautiful bracelet, but the diamond wouldn’t come until she was half-way through nurses’ training, when he pulled over on a country road, claiming car trouble, and stepped out for a few breaths of courage. He got back in the car and presented the ring.
Their story, of course, doesn’t end there, but begins a long journey through laughter and hardship. Over the course of their sixty-plus years together, Ardis endured twenty-one back surgeries, with Lynn courageously by her side, picking up the slack at home to care for their five children. In the end, it would be a devoted Ardis traveling to the hospital each day to hold Lynn’s hand as he slowly and excruciatingly succumbed to MRSA in the hospital’s quarantine. Fourteen weeks of daily visits, gloves, and face masks later, a ravaged Lynn finally completed their earthly romance, just shy of their sixtieth wedding anniversary.
In light of his parents’ auspicious romantic origins, it was mildly disappointing for Kevin that at thirty-five he hadn’t found his soul mate yet. But he was on a career trajectory that demanded his full attention, and the women he liked were either too demanding or simply not enough to distract him. He had resigned himself to bachelorhood, much as he desired children.
Then Sam Jenkins showed up, cast as a princess on his world-wide number-one TV show “Hercules,” and everything changed. They first met the night before shooting. She was jet-lagged and he was fresh from the gym. Chemistry can’t tell the entire story, but it’s a beginning. Something just clicked, immediately. Their first scene together was the tearful goodbye, the ending a tragic love-story, a kissing scene. And he did kiss her, and she kissed him back. A few days later, hidden behind some scenery, Kevin whispered, “How are we going to make this work?” Like Ardis, at first Sam resisted, answering him, “I don’t date actors. I don’t date long-distance, and I don’t date guys with long hair.” He charmingly countered, “My hair is making me a lot of money right now, so...” She smiled.
Their’s was a whirlwind romance, spanning oceans and continents, intense and relentless and undeniable. Chemistry is chemistry, after all, and distances can be bridged. The producers had seen it, too, and they invited Sam back for a three-episode love story and more.
Kevin proposed six months later, just after a romantic Christmas getaway, when they were alone at his home in Nevada. Like his dad, he contrived a simple, romantic plan to surprise Sam, kneeling before her and ceremoniously taking both her shaking hands in his. She nodded through tears of joy. They set the wedding date for a year later and easily returned to their intense, international schedule.
Then the unthinkable happened. Almost nine months into their engagement, three stealthy blood clots blasted into Kevin’s brain, wreaking havoc and turning their lives upside down. Sam witnessed one of the strokes with horror when Kevin started slurring his speech. As Sam walked him into the hospital, staggering under his weight on her shoulders, Kevin thought, “I’m going to die today. I never thought it would end like this. I wanted to have kids.”
The medical professionals saved him, narrowly, but they couldn’t fix the extensive damage. He had transformed, overnight, from a strapping, youthful, athletic man into an octogenarian who could barely make it to the bathroom on his own. This was a dramatic awakening for the couple.
As the initial weeks of his recovery dragged by, they seriously considered postponing the wedding. Sam worried the momentous ceremony might tax him too much. Kevin fretted that she was simply going to get the “for worse” part of the marriage. Perhaps she should find someone who wasn’t brain-injured, someone more like the heroic figure he used to be? Instead, they decided to simply keep the event small (twenty-seven people), both relieved to move forward. He was an answer to her prayers, after all. She was convinced he would recover, though most signs, and doctors, warned otherwise. She also knew he needed her, and he realized that was a first for him - something he would have to get used to.
Their marriage was three years young before Kevin started feeling “normal” again, but it took ten years for him to commit his difficult, triumphant story to paper. His tale is a testimony of their love, dedicated to her devotion to his care and his appreciation for her. It is a tremendous love story to rival his parents’, one for the ages, and an example for any star-crossed lovers to emulate. True love overcomes hardship and endures tragedy. “True Strength” shows us how.