By Valerie Johnson, Chattanooga, TN – On the night of Oct. 10, as audience members awaited the results of Step Show, tension filled the seats of the Mackenzie Arena.
Head of Step Show committee and host of the evening’s event, Chris Nash promised the crowd a four thousand dollar prize to a lucky member of the audience who liked Twitter’s UTC Homecoming page. With the winners of both the cash prize and Step Show hanging on the tip of Nash’s tongue the anticipation of the audience was tangible.
Ashley Rudstrom’s name was called to collect the prize, there was a moment of silence as she descended the stairs. When she arrived at center stage, the lights cut off and her boyfriend, Benjamin Pugh was reveled beneath a spotlight.
Kneeling down he professed his love and Ashley’s hand in marriage. The elated crowd was in an uproar over Ashley’s tearful acceptance. Pugh’s extravagant proposal made for a memorable night for both the lovely couple and the UTC community, but how did he pull the whole thing off?
Pugh commented that he had had the idea for over a year he just was not sure how to go about planning it. First he contacted Madison Ralston Head of the Homecoming committee who gave him Chris Nash’s e-mail. From there, Nash and Pugh e-mailed back and forth for two weeks arranging the details.
“I give [Ben] all the credit,” Nash said. “It was all his idea. I just gave him the opportunity to set it up.”
After weeks of preparation on the night of Step Show, Rudstrom had decided not to go. She was still suffering the effects of a stomach bug from two days earlier, but with the persistence of her dad and Chi Omega sisters she made it onto the stage.
“Everything had happened so fast I didn’t know what was happening. I thought it was a prank,” Rudstrom said. “I think this was the best way he could have proposed. All of my friends got to be a part of it.”
Pugh agreed, “It’s cool knowing you’ll get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend. I’m so excited about the future.”