The "votes" have been counted and Mel and Lina Sereno of West Caldwell are hands down the Caldwells' 'Cutest Couple.'
The Serenos earned the greatest number of comments (well over 100) out of the 13 entries and will receive a dozen red roses from Caldwell Flowerland and a Valentine's Day date at Sofia's in North Caldwell.
"We're thrilled and honored to have won the Cutest Couple contest through The Patch," husband Mel wrote Patch when he heard they won. "Thanks to every person that voted for us! Our journey has not been easy, but the one thing we have is each other. Happy Valentine's Day from our family to yours."
The couple has been married for 13 years and moved to West Caldwell in 2001.
Husband Mel entered the contest by submitting a photo and a caption to the Caldwells Patch last week. In his entry, he said he and his wife don't get out much because they must care for two medically fragile boys who require constant care.
"Although life is very difficult at times, we would not change a thing and would do it all over again ... well we could do without their disease; Metachromatic Leukodystrophy Disease," he told Patch.
Here are just three comments left in support of the Serenos:
Lina and Mel, not only cute but loving, courageous, selfless, strong, and funny!
—Judy Moffatt Angiolino
Lina and Mel are the most deserving couple for this contest. The have two children with a horrific disease, and they spend every hour and everyday taking care if these children, leaving their needs behind. A dinner out together for even two hours would be wonderful and the bouquet of roses will remind them of the people who have voted for them.
John is the one who signed us up for this contest and to be honest we were really excited about all the votes we were getting. We didn't read any of the other stories till the other day, but when we read Mel and Lina's it brought us to tears. Our vote goes to them.
—Briana and John
Congratulations to the Serenos and Happy Valentine's Day!
Patch wrote about a fundraiser for the Sereno family, in 2010.