HAYES, LA (KPLC) - KPLC recently held a Sweetheart Challenge on Facebook in honor of Valentine's Day. Our viewers had an overwhelming response. With over 1,000 likes, our winning couple was Pat and Johnny LeBlanc. Today, we bring you their story.
Pat and Johnny's daughter, Missy Smith, was the one who submitted a photo of the pair for our contest.
"If you have seen the picture, you can tell the love that they have for each other. It's a special kind of love," said Smith.
Missy's parents were married in 1978 and now have five children and six grandchildren.
"There were five of us, so we didn't have a lot of money, but we had a lot of love and what we needed," Missy explained.
The most important thing that Pat and Johnny handed down to their children, however, was not anything material but rather a lesson on everyday life: "They taught us to love each other and everybody we've ever met," said Missy.
Pat said that she was shocked when she learned that her daughter had entered her in the contest, but she took it all in stride and expressed her thanks to everyone who liked and commented on the photo.
Pat LeBlanc, a native of Lacassine and a resident of Hayes, La., is a Medical Billing Claims Specialist at Imperial Health in Lake Charles.
Johnny LeBlanc, a native and resident of Hayes, La., is a mechanic who works in the oil industry.
The two met in about 1974 through a common friend.
When asked about their first date, Pat said, "It was actually a wrestling match. At the time, I was very young, so I had to go out with my two brothers… I was about fourteen at the time. I was very young."
Pat was just 17 when the two got married. Johnny was in the military at the time. He served in the Marine Corps from 1976 to 1980.
"I tell people this all the time," said Pat. "I think the reason we're still together is because when he was in the service, the only thing we had was each other. I couldn't run to Mom or Dad for help … even when we moved to California… And we learned to work out our own problems, communications."
Pat also had some advice for young couples: "Communicate and let each other know what's in your heart. Don't hold anything in. You have to communicate, and you have to be honest."