Former Ladysmith man finds love and a new life

Scott Hulshof is hoping to win a dream wedding in Mexico to show his fiancee how much he loves and appreciates her.

Scott Hulshof — who grew up in Ladysmith and Chemainus — and his fiancée Danielle Toth are finalists in the Global BC Dream Wedding contest.

Scott Hulshof says a dream wedding in Mexico would be the perfect gift to give the woman who has given him everything.

Hulshof, 35, and his fiancée Danielle Toth, 25, are in the running for Global BC’s Dream Wedding Contest this month, and Hulshof wants nothing more than to win the contest for Toth. The prize is an all-inclusive holiday to Mexico that includes a wedding package.

“I couldn’t think of a better gift for Danielle to symbolize how much I love her and appreciate all she’s done for me,” said Hulshof.

Struggling with addiction and troubles with the law for nearly 12 years, Hulshof, who grew up in Ladysmith and Chemainus and graduated from Chemainus Secondary School, went through bouts of homelessness and, above all, hopelessness. Four years ago, Hulshof, who now lives in Port Coquitlam, was given one last chance to change his life, and he says that, for the first time, he cared enough to make a change.

Hulshof met Toth when he did a presentation about his experiences with addiction and recovery to her  criminology class at Douglas College, and they’ve been together for three years. Hulshof says Toth has been the single most important entity in his entire life as she stood by his struggles, and in his letter to the Global BC producers applying for a chance to be a finalist in the Dream Wedding Contest, he says he “would be the stupidest man alive if he were to not realize that he has the most amazing woman a man could have.”

Hulshof proposed to Toth by leading her on a day-long treasure hunt that ended in a Cirque du Soleil performance and dinner. When she came home at the end of the day, Toth found candles, rose petals, a video message from Hulshof, a poem he had written and a gift — a leather bracelet engraved with the words “Danielle Toth, will you marry me?” When Toth unwrapped the bracelet, she turned around to see Hulshof kneeling on one knee and holding an engagement ring.

“I’ve been considering proposing to Danielle for probably the last year, and to be honest, the only thing holding me back was the fact I didn’t have money for a ring,” said Hulshof. “I was on the Global website and saw something about this contest. I thought ‘I’m going to apply and basically let the gods take control of my life now and see if this is my time.’ I started looking for a ring and thinking about how to ask.”

Hulshof says his relationship with Toth is “awesome.”

“I’ve never met anybody in my life that I’ve had as much fun with,” he said. “I know it will sound cliché, but she really completes me as a person. And she really understands me. I’ve never been so understood by one person. She looks at me and knows what I’m thinking. What I fell in love with is the way she talked to me; she never judged me for my past. She just accepted me for who I was, and she has never not inspired me to be a better man.

“Why would I want to be with another woman? What more would you want in a person? She’s funny, beautiful, smart, charismatic, and she’s my best friend, literally.”

Hulshof had to move off Vancouver Island to get his life on track, and since making that move, he has turned things around.

“I had too many negative contacts and negative associations with people that kept me entwined in all that stuff,” he said.

Hulshof graduated from college in October 2011 after studying addiction and community support work, focusing on youth and adolescents. After a lengthy process of approval, he was accepted to work in the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

“Let me tell you, I have that approval framed on my wall,” he said. “Having the criminal record clearance is a huge accomplishment for my life.”

Hulshof has been working as a youth worker with the Ministry of Children and Family Development since June, and he also works to provide assistance for developmentally challenged people in care. At the same time, he has been working on a one-on-one contract with a nine-year-old in Maple Ridge. Through that family, he became connected to a day care in Maple Ridge, and he is now working as a child development worker and support staff at a day care for children aged three to seven.

Hulshof also works periodically as an at-risk youth worker with the School District of Maple Ridge, and he recently started a company that makes custom hide straps and accessories — like the bracelet he made for Toth.

Hulshof has been clean for almost four years.

“I think the overall message out of everything I’ve accomplished and everything I’m working for is that change is possible for everyone,” said Hulshof. “I’ve struggled with addiction, homelessness and troubles with the law; I know there are a lot of people in Ladysmith who knew me as that guy and not as this guy.

“I’ve changed. I’ve made a better life for myself. I think a lot of people were disappointed in me for many years. I really appreciate the support and belief from my close friends in the Ladysmith area.”

Hulshof and Toth are one of 10 couples who are finalists for the Dream Wedding Contest. The public can vote for their favourite couple online until Jan. 27.

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