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Newlyweds, University Hospitals' healthcare workers take love to new heights as COVID-19 subsides

The couple took on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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Posted at 10:42 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 23:23:09-05

CLEVELAND — After years of dating, Shubham Gupta and Kara Richey were on Cloud nine when they got engaged in August 2019.

“We met in North Carolina when I was a fellow in 2013 at Duke University,” said Gupta.

But as the world started to shut down due to COVID-19, their wedding plans began to change.

“Planning a wedding is stressful enough kind of as it is, but then dealing with a pandemic on top of it," said Richey.

The two work at University Hospitals. Gupta is a reconstructive urologist and Richey is a nurse practitioner.

The past couple of years, they worked hard to keep themselves and their patients healthy and put a lot of their personal plans on pause.

“We've limited ourselves to, you know, trips that are within a driving distance,” said Gupta. It's not just whether you get sick or your loved ones get sick, but the inability to participate in care of patients who need that care itself, you know? It makes you think twice about doing things that you wouldn't really think about doing before.”

They had an intimate wedding in September 2021.

“We had the whole COVID wedding,” said Richey. “Smaller guest list and a whole lot of masks.”

Then as newlyweds who are dedicated to fighting sickness, they decided to celebrate health as coronavirus case counts subsided.

“Global pandemic puts things into a much sharper focus, you know, the things that you cherish, your priorities,” he said.

They know very well that there’s no time like the present to do something you’ve always wanted to do, so, they decided to cross off an item on their bucket list: to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.

“You don’t know what the situation is going to be in six weeks rather than six months,” said Gupta. “The pandemic really allowed us to focus our energy on this and make this happen.”

They got to Tanzania on Feb. 12 and spent the next several days rock climbing, camping, and congratulating themselves on a feat that not many accomplish.

“You’re tired. The oxygen is extremely low, most of us had a sleepwalk, glow situation. It was very hard to breathe,” said Richey. “I recommend everyone who is newly married to go camping. You’re stuck on a mountain together, in a tent and you’re cold and you’re tired."

Eventually, they reached the summit.

“I had big, gobby tears in my eyes saying ‘I cannot believe I just did it,’ it was huge and the sun was poking up over the mountain and there were just these beautiful clouds everywhere and it was unbelievable,” she said.

The two learned quickly in their engagement that in life there will always be low points, such as a global pandemic, but working together they will always be able to reach new highs, literally.

“It’s very nice to have a partner that encourages you to be the best you can be,” said Richey.