A woman who was accused of ‘using’ her Paralympian partner for social media fame after the pair went viral on TikTok has admitted he didn’t think she was ‘genuine’ when she took an interest because he wasn’t ‘used to people being nice to him’.
He started dating girlfriend Menecis Garriga, 23, three years ago and the couple have since racked up 1.5million followers and 40million likes on their shared TikTok page.
The pair first met in nursery in Chicago, Illinois, and later became best friends before Brody asked Menecis – who has been accused of ‘using’ her partner for TikTok fame by online trolls – to prom.
Speaking about the start of their friendship, Menecis recalled: ‘I think it was overwhelming to him because he was not used to people being nice to him so he didn’t know if I was being genuine. But I kept talking to him.’
A woman who was accused of ‘using’ her Paralympian partner for social media fame after the pair went viral on TikTok has admitted he didn’t think she was ‘genuine’ when she took an interest because he wasn’t ‘used to people being nice to him’. Pictured, Brody Roybal and Menecis Garriga
Brody Roybal (pictured with his girlfriend), 23, has been missing both of his legs since birth, and has won gold medals for Team USA at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Paralympics playing ice sledge hockey
He started dating girlfriend Menecis, 23, three years ago and the couple have since racked up 1.5million followers and 40million likes on their shared TikTok page (pictured)
Their friendship soon blossomed into a romantic relationship but Brody moved to Arizona to attend college so it was put on hold. A year later, the couple realized they couldn’t be apart and they made their relationship official in August 2018.
Brody said: ‘My parents taught me from a very young age to never put limitations on myself and to try everything I wanted to do.
‘As I grow older I realize that my disability doesn’t require limitation. I try to look at everything with a positive mindset.’
Menecis, who studied business at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), said: ‘A lot of the time people are scared of dating someone with a disability because it’s very new and they don’t know what it’s going to be like.
‘But a lot of other things come before a disability. When I look at Brody I don’t see half a person. What he’s lacking in his body, he more than makes up for in his personality.
The couple (pictured) first met in nursery in Chicago, Illinois, and later became best friends
‘He’s one of the kindest most caring souls I’ve ever met. He refuses to let anything hold him back – and I’ve never been happier.’
The couple first met as four-year-olds when they attended the same school and lived near each other.
Menecis said: ‘We were down the street from each other, we met on the first day of kindergarten. We went to all the same schools, and we were best friends and talked every day.’
Brody and Menecis then attended middle and high school together and remained friends until Brody asked her to go to prom with him.
She said: ‘We had an interesting relationship growing up, we went to the same clubs and were in the same classes – so we started talking. In middle school, we liked each other less because I was really nice to him.
‘I think that was overwhelming to him because he was not used to people being nice to him so he didn’t know if I was being genuine. But I kept talking to him.
Brody asked Menecis, who says she’s never treated her partner differently because of his disability, to prom (pictured)
Their friendship soon blossomed into a romantic relationship but Brody moved to Arizona to attend college so it was put on hold. Pictured, the couple together
‘In high school, we had lockers very close to each other so he would wait for me in the morning and evening when we put our stuff away or collected it to talk.
‘I also hopped into the elevator and got him to talk to me and our relationship blossomed. He was always there for me no matter what and that really solidified it. He asked me to prom and that’s when I knew that we were something more.’
But Brody was moving away to Arizona to go to college to study communication in 2016 so they put their relationship on hold.
Menecis said: ‘There was an understanding that there wasn’t going to be a big break up, we just decided to be together until summer was over and that was it.’
But a year later, Brody was invited to go to New York for a hockey tournament. He saw Menasis and knew that they couldn’t be apart so officially asked her out in August 2018.
A year later, the couple (pictured) realized they couldn’t be apart and they made their relationship official in August 2018
She recalled: ‘That’s when our relationship properly started and we’ve been together ever since. Because I knew him growing up, I know that he is more than his disability.
‘I never put any limits on him and he’s never put a limit on himself. It hasn’t affected our relationship as much as people think it has. Just because you have something different it doesn’t mean that you can’t work around it.
‘He does the cooking and I do the cleaning. We find ways to adjust. We also have amazing parents and they never let him not do anything.
‘They show him he can do anything and my parents were adamant that no matter what you’re no different to anyone.
She added: ‘As children, it was visible, and kids would point and stare at him. But it was the last thing that came to my mind.’
Brody said: ‘Life just has a crazy way of working out. We were so young when we met we were able to grow up together and really see how well we worked together. Love always finds a way.’
Their TikTok page sees the couple (pictured) partaking in viral dance trends, making comedy sketches and sharing clips of their adorable dachshund
Meanwhile, appearing on This Morning on Monday from their Tennessee home to discuss the reaction to their viral TikToks, Menecis said that while it ‘hurt her at first’ to receive criticism online, she won’t let trolls define her relationship with Brody.
‘At first – because nothing prepares you to face judgment from people you don’t know, we were lucky our whole lives to grow up with the same people and have that support – when a stranger came and questioned my love for Brody, I thought they were joking.
‘When I realized people genuinely were thinking I was using Brody, it really hurt me at first and it came from Brody he was like “These people don’t know us, they don’t know everything we’ve been through, they don’t know that we’ve known each other our whole lives, so why let someone define how you feel for me?”
‘I was finally able to sit back and kind of laugh at the thought that people think you would have to use someone. ‘
Their TikTok page sees the couple partaking in viral dance trends, making comedy sketches and sharing clips of their adorable dachshund.
Brody says that Menecis is very ‘expressive about her love’ and the pair are sharing their story on YouTube, already boasting 4.87K subscribers.