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Westport Charity Benefits From Love Story Gift

Stamford’s Kurt Ringquist’s story of finding love on won the grand prize in Main Street Connect’s Close to My Heart competition . The $10,000 prize was meant to be split evenly between the winner and a local nonprofit. But Ringquist decided he wasn’t splitting the money.

Instead, he is giving it all to CLASP Homes of Westport , an organization that helps adults with disabilities lead regular lives. It wasn’t as hard a decision as one might think — he did it for love.

“I wrote the story , but Tracy is my story,” said Ringquist. He means Westporter Tracy Flood, his fiancée and the 27-years-and-counting president of CLASP.

Ringquist wrote about meeting Flood through He said he didn’t expect to find love — Ringquist just wanted someone to share a nice dinner with. That was two years ago. They became engaged last December and are planning to move in together. They’ll be married in September.

More than 30 organizations were supported by 40 contest entries, but it was Ringquist’s tale of love that charmed Main Street Connect’s panel of judges, who were encouraged by votes from the readers. Editorial Director Jane Bryant Quinn, Features Editor Julie Curtis and Copy Editor Karen Tensa combed through a bevy of tales of love ranging from children to pets. Ultimately, they agreed with the readers, who voted Ringquist’s story as the best of the batch. It was also one of a small group that actually addressed romantic love.

Flood didn’t know Ringquist had written the story until after it was submitted. “One morning he sent me an email to say he submitted it, and I was like, ‘Oh, gee, I wish I could have read it first,'” Flood said over the phone. She said that when she did get a chance to read it, she thought it was adorable.

Close to My Heart wasn’t the first time Flood served as a muse for Ringquist. She joyfully shared that he wrote and produced a song for her with the help of a friend. Ringquist said he hasn’t been in a band in years, but she just inspired him to write.

Ringquist said he considered using his half of the winnings for something more personal. “I thought we could always use the money toward the wedding. But we talked about it and giving all of the money to CLASP just seemed like the right thing to do,” said Ringquist.

According to Flood, the $10,000 will go toward purchasing a van with a wheelchair lift. CLASP has two vans now that are in states of disrepair. Flood said she is happy she and Ringquist can donate all of the money. She considers CLASP’s clients an extended family.

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