By Alison Ryan / Photographs by Ricardo Mejia –
They’re forces in their industries and in the community—and these power pairs also ooze the cool factor.
Guerdy Russell & Abraira – Miramar
She’s an event guru known for creating weddings for high-profile clientele such as Miami Heat player Chris Bosh.He’s a fire captain who hails from a long line of first responders.
You’ve known each other since high school. How do you keep the spark alive?
We’re never bored, as we always have a hot topic to debate and that brings a zesty element to our relationship. We’re constantly surprising each other—recently, for his 40th birthday, I surprised him with a Cuban-themed bash at Nautilus South Beach that I spent months designing. Since I travel a lot for work and Russell works 24-hour cycles, we like to FaceTime or text sweet messages throughout the day to keep each other excited about our next face-to-face.
How have your multicultural back-grounds shaped your family?
I was born in Haiti and raised in Paris until the age of 9, at which time I moved to the U.S. with my family, while Russell is a native Miamian of Cuban, Italian, Spanish and Scottish descent. Our varied cultures have created a household for our two children where a melting pot of traditions thrive. Our backgrounds have allowed our children to be more accepting of and open to others.
What do you like to do as a couple for fun in Broward?
We love to eat at restaurants like Brimstone Woodfire Grill, and when we feel like being adventurous, we’ll go to places like iFLY, which provides indoor sky-diving experiences. We are big nesters and love to do home renovation together, which we find very rewarding and fun.
Samantha Steven & Balanovich – Cooper City
She’s a rock-star photographer. He’s a national account manager in healthcare who has never let Multiple Sclerosis slow him down.
Although you’d never know it from looking at him, Steven has MS. How do you face each day as a couple?
Steven: We’re grateful that I still have great mobility, and being active is important to us, so we exercise together five days a week at CrossFit Ripped in Weston. We also support many charities that are important to us on a personal level, from running in marathons to benefit the MS Society to Samantha donating her services to local schools and charities to capture amazing photos of children.
Describe the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as a couple.
Samantha: Life is full of highs and lows, and you must ride both together. When Steven was diagnosed with MS, I was pregnant with our first child. Together we went through a very traumatic period, but we remained strong for one an.other. There is no perfect marriage; you just have to communicate and work through things.
What does romance look like in your relationship?
A nice dinner out, without our two children, where there aren’t any spills or fights at the table. We’re creatures of habit, so we often go to our local favorite places like Village Tavern, but we also enjoy going to Komodo in Miami or the new Rooftop in Fort Lauderdale. Each year, we take one vacation alone, just the two of us, so we can keep that spark alive.
Paula Dasilva & Carissa Offhaus – Coconut Creek
DaSilva is the queen of the cuisine at Burlock Coast in Fort Lauderdale, while Offhaus lives the sweet life as a pastry cook at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
How does your love of food bring you together? And who cooks at home?
Paula: We both share a passion for food, and because it consumes a big part of our professional lives, if we ever get stumped on what to do, it’s usually, “Let’s try a new restaurant!” When both of us are home, we share cooking responsibilities; one chops while the other starts to cook, and we both love to grill. Carissa is the grill master.
You have two children, ages 6 and 10. How do you balance kids, demanding jobs and your relationship? Paula: It’s a juggling act. At times we divide and conquer, but we prefer to do things as a team. I’m a huge planner, so each week we discuss what everyone has going on from our work to the kids’ school activities. Somewhere in between all the craziness we always find time for ourselves, even if it’s just having morning coffee or getting pedicures together.
What does free time look like in your relationship?
Weeknights we try to stay home as much as we can, cook with the kids and make sure that we’re involved with their school work and activities. We also love to travel. Any extra days that we have, we pack our bags and go somewhere. One of our favorite date places is always somewhere we can sit outside and overlook the water.
Vicki & Richard Deluca – Weston
She’s a model with a big heart for animals. He’s a financial advisor to pro athletes with a past life as a sports agent in the NFL.
You’ve been married 20 years. What’s your secret?
Vicki: Being married isn’t easy, it works because we put in the work. We make time to talk and to make sure that we’re really “hearing” each other. The world is so stressful right now, and if we don’t touch base with each other every day, we’re lost. Richard also has a crazy sense of humor and always keeps me laughing.
With three teenage girls, how do you handle the parenting?
It’s a game of good-cop, bad-cop. Richard is the nice one who is sweet to our “little girls” and I’m the bad one who enforces all the rules. The results are three amazing young ladies that are very strong-willed and confident.
What’s a typical date night in Weston?
We appreciate good food and we enjoy eating at Ceviche Arigato for dinner, or sometimes we go to Acquolina or Angelo’s for appetizers and drinks. Richard has been a wonderful support of my animal rescue organization, BulliesNBeyond, and he helps at adoption events, which makes me happy that we can do that together. We also love taking our three rescue dogs for a walk.
Rachel George & Perz – Sunrise
She’s the general manager at BRIO Tuscan Grille, Plantation. He’s an adventurous sales manager at Morris 4×4 Center.
Tell us your love story.
We met when I took my Jeep in for service and George was at the service counter. I had a book with me—Wicked by Gregory Maguire—and George asked me about it, totally catching me off guard and piquing my interest. I learned that George has a passion for Jeeps, which was made even more apparent when we went off-roading together for the first time. I was incredibly impressed with his knowledge and skill.
You’re both heavily involved in the community. Why is philanthropy important to your relationship?
We chose to establish our home in Broward County because there is so much culture and diversity here. We both learned from our parents the importance of contributing
to our community, and the time we spend together volunteering for MADD and ARC Broward helps reinforce those values and reminds us of our families.
What’s your favorite way to spend time together?
We enjoy experiencing new things and new places, whether it’s trying a restaurant we haven’t been to, going to a show or a lecture (usually at the Broward Center), or a new activity. We recently at-tempted archery! Usually, one of us introduces the idea to the other, but we make sure to give every new activity 100 percent.