Winners revealed in Cutest Couple photo contest organized by Echo Press

One 'couple' are friends in kindergarten and the other have been together nearly 50 years.

Jordie Black and Jack Erickson, winners of the Cutest Couple photo contest, dressed the part for their kindergarten Sock Hop for the 1950s Day at school. The two attend Voyager Elementary School in Alexandria.
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ALEXANDRIA — Jordie Black, 6, and Jack Erickson, 5, have been friends since the first day of preschool, which was in September of 2021.

Now in kindergarten at Voyager Elementary School in Alexandria, Jordie and Jack were named the “cutest couple” in this year’s Cutest Couple photo contest. Organized by the Echo Press with sponsors Elden's Fresh Foods and Willy T's Tavern and Grill, the contest raised $1,545 for Someplace Safe in Douglas County.

Jordie is the daughter of Meghan Black and Bryant Black, and Jack is the son of Carly and CJ Erickson.

According to their mothers, Jordie and Jack were both nervous about everyday preschool and found each other on the first day.

“They have had a special bond and friendship ever since,” said Carly. “They have always referred to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. We aren’t really sure where they heard these terms to begin with, but they talk about each other all the time.”


Jordie’s mom said that her daughter asks how old she has to be to marry Jack to which she is told, “way older.”

Part of their prize was donated to Someplace Safe of Douglas County.

And apparently Jack tells his mom that he and Jordie are “going to live in a tiny house until they have babies.”

Carly said the two see each other at school everyday and they go to the same church. They are in different classes at school, but they eat lunch together every day. Carly said that her son shared with her that they like to play on the playground, play games, color pictures for each other and celebrate each other’s birthdays.

This past summer, Jack had a lemonade stand because he wanted to save up money to buy Jordie an extra special birthday present.

When asked why their parents submitted their picture into the Cutest Couple photo contest, Carly said, “Their friendship is so natural, effortless and unprompted. They are like two peas in a pod and no matter what happens in the future, I am grateful that they have each other to depend on and look forward to seeing every day.”

Jordie Black, 6, daughter of Meghan Black and Bryant Black, gets a hug from her best friend, Jack Erickson, 5, son of Carly and CJ Erickson. The two celebrated winning the Cutest Couple photo contest by going bowling.
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She also said that who knows what will happen as she and her husband, CJ, met in daycare when they were 4 years old.

She also said, “What a fun way to raise funds for such a great and needed organization.”

Carly also shared that when she told Jack that he and Jordie had won the contest, he hugged and kissed their picture that was in the newspaper. And reportedly the two celebrated their win by going bowling for their “first date.”


As the first place winners, they received a $200 gift card from Elden’s Fresh Foods and a one-year subscription to the newspaper. Carly said they were going to use the gift certificate to buy all the kindergartners at Voyager a special treat to celebrate.

All proceeds from the contest were donated to Someplace Safe in Alexandria.

A wonderful couple

Darrell and Sharon Klimek were the second place winners in the Cutest Couple photo contest. They were nominated by Trumm Drug employees. Sharon works at the Alexandria Trumm Drug.

One of the employees, Caryn Schutz, shared that Sharon and Darrell have quite the love story; one that inspires all of those who get to work with Sharon.

Darrell and Sharon Klimek were the second place winners in the Cutest Couple photo contest. They were nominated by Trumm Drug employees.
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Schutz said it was adorable when Sharon found out that she and her husband had been nominated. Apparently Sharon didn’t think they were worthy and said that Santa and Mrs. Claus were probably going to be the winners. (Another couple, dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus, were also entered in the contest.)

Schutz said that the employees banded together to raise money so that they could vote for the couple and that the owners of Trumm Drug ended up matching their donations.

Their work paid off and the couple ended up in second place.

From the story that Sharon has shared with employees, Schutz said that the couple met nearly 50 years ago. They worked together and reportedly one day Darrell told Sharon that she looked sad. She reportedly shared with him the story of what was happening in her life and he was taken aback and told her that she was way too nice and way too pretty for what had happened.


“I believe that for nearly 50 years, they prove to one another and those around us that marriage is hard work but so worth that investment every day,” Schutz said.

Lois and Leonard Hains, each a spry 100 years old, were quite flabbergasted they won the Cutest Couple photo contest.

Schutz said that both Darrell and Sharon are always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need and that because of their actions, employees have “stepped up their game” to be more considerate of others.

“Each week, if any Trumm employee walks out to the parking lot, you will always be greeted with a friendly ‘Hello!’ and an enthusiastic wave from Darrell as he awaits his beautiful bride for her break,” said Schutz, noting that Darrell picks Sharon up everyday to bring her home for lunch, a lunch he has prepared for her.

She also shared that it is not just Sharon’s coworkers who are blessed and inspired by the couple — every customer Sharon visits with is blessed, too.

Contest raised more than $1,750 for Someplace Safe in Douglas County.

“Sharon knows them by name and always greets them with such absolute genuine care and concern for them and their loved ones,” said Schutz. “She is such a treasure to all of us at Trumm and we couldn’t be more delighted that her and Darrell, along with all the ups and downs of marriage and raising a blended family has presented, are being honored for hanging in there and not giving up when the going got tough. What an inspiration that is in a society and culture that is all about finding the next best thing when it gets too hard.”

Schutz said it is a true delight to see such a wonderful couple honored and said, “Thanks so much for all of this and also for the opportunity to donate to Someplace Safe.”

As the second place winners, Darrel and Sharon received a $50 gift card to Willy T’s Tavern and Grill and also a six-month subscription to the Echo Press.

The votes are in -- more than 10,000 of them -- and the winner of the first-ever "Cutest Couple Photo Contest" is Neal Baker and Dena Hintermeister. The winning couple received 1,968 votes, a whopping 1,128 votes more than the next highest total....

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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