Cross border couple goes to incredible lengths to reunite

Cheektowaga

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — This moment, more than a year in the making.

News 4 has followed the challenge that Mert Labounty, of Buffalo, and Tammy Yonkers, of Fort Erie, have been stuck dealing with.

“Every 30 days, you know, I’d go through this emotional rollercoaster where you get your hopes up in the beginning of the month that they’re going to open up the border on the 21st or 22nd, and then that time comes and they cancel,” Mert said.

Like so many border families still separated by what the two governments have deemed non-essential travel, the couple had not been together in person for 18 months.

“We spent Christmas together over a computer monitor and an iPad, and birthdays…we missed both my birthdays…and everything. We missed it all, for a year. And we’ve been right beside each other. That’s the worst part,” Tammy said.

They could wave to each other from across the river, and they often did, spending many weekends each protesting the ongoing closure from their respective spots on opposite sides of the Peace Bridge.

“We met a lot of nice people. A lot of families that are suffering, a lot of worse stories than ours. A lot of people getting sick and passing away, and they can’t get to their loved ones, and it’s terrible,” Mert added.

Tammy resorted to what many people have made the difficult decision to do. She spent a lot of money and an entire day of traveling.

Tammy drove from Fort Erie to Toronto.

“Toronto to Chicago, and then to Buffalo. 12 hours, for otherwise 30 minutes. It would cost me, it would have taken me to drive from my house to his house. 30 minutes,” Tammy said.

And finally, after these many months, she landed in Buffalo Sunday night.

“I’m over the moon. I’ve been waiting for this day for months and months and months and months and months,” Tammy added.

“Seeing her just brings back all this hope and glory that I have for our future, and I’m just so happy to have the news here today to show everybody that true love is worth waiting for,” Mert said.

The two will keep protesting for all the other families.

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