The mannequin challenge has taken over social media, with everyone from rabbis to Blac Chyna (in the midst of labor no less) getting in on the action. But Edwin Kircus, 31, of Clarkston, Michigan, pulled off what may just be the greatest mannequin challenge yet.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, he asked almost his entire family — 18 people in all — to pose perfectly still while he surprised his girlfriend, Jillian Allen, with a proposal she will never forget.
Allen, 26, had been snooping around for clues of an upcoming proposal before the couple left for Thanksgiving, to no avail. “We had talked about it,” explains Allen. “I knew where the box was that the ring was in. So the morning we were leaving, I ran into the room to look if the box was still there — and it was.”
Thinking that weekend would have been the perfect opportunity for Kircus to pop the question, a disappointed Allen resigned herself to a holiday without a proposal. “I had written it completely off,” she says.
But for this prank-loving couple, the fun was just beginning.
As it would turn out, Kircus was well aware that his bride-to-be would be on the lookout for a proposal, so he was determined to do everything he could to surprise her. He carefully planted the empty box where he knew she would look for it, pocketed the ring safely away, and watched as his master plan unfolded before his girlfriend’s eyes.
“I was trying to throw her off,” he says. “I had it set up so perfect, the box and everything, to make it look like it was still there. My goodness, I swear if every day was Easter, that girl would find all the eggs.”
Allen and Kircus met back in 2014, at Torch Lake, a popular summer hangout in Michigan, where Kircus says he first noticed Allen four boats over. “I was trying not to be a creeper,” he laughs. “There was instant chemistry,” adds Allen.
After hanging out as friends for about a year, the couple fell in love and Kircus asked Allen to be his girlfriend in February 2015. “Oh, we made it Facebook official,” she laughs. Now, the fun-loving duo spends their time playing pranks and making each other laugh.
“He should have a camera on him at all times, he’s constantly playing pranks on everyone,” says Allen. “He’s the most athletic old man ever. When we go out to bars and stuff, he does back flips — he’s constantly performing, he’ll play planks on the waitress, he’s the biggest prankster goofball. There’s never a day when I’m not laughing.”
Allen says that it was easy to fall in love with Kircus, because despite his goofy and outgoing personality, he has a big heart.
As in, literally.
Stricken by a mysterious virus when he was 14 years old, his heart began to fail and he was placed on the transplant list. Kircus remembers sitting on his hospital bed, watching his heart monitor register his heartbeats, then suddenly seeing the rate flatline — right before he passed out.
Doctors were able to bring Kircus back to life, but his eventual recovery baffled doctors. Although they were never fully able to find the cause of his condition, he has been left with an enlarged heart and is on medication to regulate it. Growing up, a young Kircus was not allowed to play sports — despite his natural athletic abilities — so he cheered on his older brother, David, from the sidelines as he went on to join the NFL.
His heart, however, has carried him far in life — including capturing the love of Allen — who says that her favorite thing about her new fiancé is how caring and compassionate he is, constantly thinking of other people. And the feeling is obviously mutual, as Kircus, who didn’t know at the time what Allen had said about him, gushed that what he loved most about her was “her heart.”
The actual proposal took place at Kircus’s family home in Michigan, where the family had gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. “That was the best thing about the proposal,” says Allen. “Almost his entire family was there — his cousins, parents, nieces, nephew, sisters — he comes from a family of a bajillion, so having them there was so important.”
Having originally planned to pop the question while the family said grace before dinner, Kircus instead decided to enlist the help of his parents and three of his sisters, Joanie, Tara, and Lanie, to pull off the ultimate mannequin challenge proposal. “I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before,” he explains.
Again trying to throw his future fiancé off, he casually suggested that the family do that whole “mechanic” challenge thing that was floating around social media. But despite his carefully laid plans, Allen was less than enthusiastic about braving the cold, rainy weather outside.
In the video, a disgruntled Allen looks slightly annoyed when her nephew, who was filming the challenge, tells her to turn around. “I was thinking, ‘Ugh, what are you doing?!'” she explains. “‘That’s not how the mannequin challenge goes! You’re messing it up’!”
And when she did finally turn around, did thoughts of her overwhelming love for her boyfriend flood her mind? Nope.
“I was thinking, ‘No way, he got me! How did he get me?!” she laughs.
The couple plans to wed in February 2018, which falls in line with their anniversary as well as Kircus’ birthday. Though they haven’t worked out all the details just yet, we can assume that they are bound to have at least a few surprises up their sleeves for the big day.