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Developmentally Disabled Couple Renews Vows on 29th Wedding Anniversary

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A developmentally disabled couple on Staten Island celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary Monday by renewing their vows. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

Just as he did 29 years ago, Burt Petrone promised to love and honor his wife, Barbara, all the days of his life.

There have been many. Burt's 92, and his blushing bride is 76.

On Monday, the pair celebrated their wedding anniversary by renewing their vows.

As young adults, Burt and Barbara were residents at the former Willowbrook State School, but they didn't know each other. They met several years later at a care program they both attended, and began dating.

It took five years before the state granted them a marriage license, because at that time, allowing developmentally disabled couples to marry was looked down upon.

They persisted, marrying June 8, 1985, and that fight paved the way for others like them to exchange vows.

"They want the same things that you and I want. They want to do whatever they want to do. They have dreams. They want to love and be in relationships," said Michele Savino of Volunteers of America.

Despite their age and health issues, the couple has managed to stay quite active, taking dinner trips to Red Lobster and even traveling on a cruise last year.

"They just do a lot together. They give each other space and whatnot," said direct care worker Sheila Leverett.

The ceremony was held in the chapel of the Carmel Richmond Rehab Center, where the couple has attended day programs for the last 10 years.

They've had their share of hard times, battling various health issues, although both are still mobile.

Still, the secret to their success?

"We never use fistfights. Never. When you've got it this far, it's going to continue," Burt Petrone said. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP