By William K. Alcorn
Christmas came early for Chelsea and Randy Musselman, former Youngstown- area residents, now a military family stationed with the Army at Fort Carson, Colo.
Chelsea and Randy recently learned they won a seven-day vacation in the Cayman Islands, the honeymoon the couple never had, in Things Remembered’s online Ballsiest Man of the Year contest.
It all started with an engraved bracelet that Randy, a combat engineer E-4 specialist, sent Chelsea while he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.
The bracelet, engraved “always and forever,” has a heart surrounded by the birthstones of Chelsea, Randy and their 3-year-old son, Matthew.
“The bracelet means everything to me. It came from his heart. He thought of me when he saw it and had it personalized. When I opened the box, I cried. It was very sweet of him to do that,” Chelsea said.
“Randy sacrifices a lot,” she said.
“He’s so humble about it, too. He is always there for me, no matter what. He knew how much I was hurting while he was away, and he sent me the bracelet; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg in what he does and is willing to do for me and our family.”
The bracelet that gave Chelsea so much pleasure when she received it again brought her joy as the basis for her entering and winning the grand prize in Things Remembered’s Ballsiest Man contest.
The Ballsiest Man contest asked women to nominate the men in their lives who go above and beyond for their family and community, and also brought attention to the Sean Kimerling Testicular Cancer Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness, providing answers and promoting action in the fight against testicular cancer.
Chelsea, who “liked” the Things Remembered Facebook page after Randy sent her the bracelet, purchased at Things Remembered, learned about the contest in her news feed and nominated her husband.
Now, Chelsea and Randy, both raised in the Youngstown area, are busy planning for their April trip to the Cayman Islands, the honeymoon they couldn’t have as newlyweds because of Randy’s military assignments and Chelsea’s bout with cervical cancer.
She was diagnosed with cancer in January 2010, but because she was pregnant, surgery was delayed until December 2010. She now is cancer-free.
Chelsea, 25, is the daughter of Tammy Fridley of Niles and Paul Fridley of Warren. She graduated from Mineral Ridge High School in 2006, where she was a member of the varsity softball and soccer teams. In 2006, she also graduated from the phlebotomy technician course at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.
Randy M. Jr., 26, son of Randall Sr. and Leona Musselman of Liberty, graduated from Liberty High School in 2005.
Chelsea describes Randy as “a real softie.”
“He is in the military, and all those guys try to act so hard and tough. ... They try to hide their soft side. Randy is just such a wonderful husband and father and he deserves this trip so much,” she said. “He really is the ‘ballsiest’ man I know. He’s tough and does what he needs to do, but he’s so sweet and soft at the same time.”
“He’s thoughtful in every aspect. If he gets home from work before me, he cleans and cooks and does pretty much everything except laundry,” she said with a laugh.
“He’s affectionate and still finds a way to give me butterflies. He is very supportive of my decisions and encourages me to do new things and finish my education. As for our son, he spoils him rotten,” she said.
Randy’s mother said her son has always been a giving person and that he and Chelsea deserve the vacation.
As a youth, he mowed the lawns of neighbors “Grandma Mary and Grandma Lucille, and as a couple, they sacrifice to serve our country. It’s the proudest thing to raise your kid to be the man Randy is today,” she said.
“When he was in Afghanistan, it was a very trying time. It was a happy moment for us all when he got off that plane in the United States,” Leona said.
Chelsea’s mother said she is “very excited for Chelsea and Randy. When my daughter called to tell me they had won, I told her that while they were having a great time in the Caymans I would be having a great time here watching my grandson Matthew. They live so far away, I don’t get to see Matt a lot.”
Chelsea’s entry, one of five finalists in the contest, received twice as many “likes” as any of the other finalists, giving them the grand prize.
Randy enlisted in the Army Reserve in September 2007, but when he found out Chelsea was pregnant, he decided to make it a full-time commitment. He recently re-enlisted and is scheduled to go to forward observer training after which he will be assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky., with the 101st Airborne Division.
Because of military commitments, Chelsea and Randy were married in a civil ceremony July 7, 2010, at the Trumbull County Courthouse in Warren.
“We haven’t had an actual church wedding or honeymoon, so this will be our honeymoon. It’s very exciting to be able to get away and enjoy ‘us’ time. Being a military family living over 1,000 miles away, with no family here to help us, we NEED a vacation,” he said.
“This will be the first time Chelsea has ever been to the ocean. She’s looking forward to the sand, sun and quiet, and I am looking forward to a little quiet time with the wife myself. There are no date nights, no dinners or anything like that. If we to go to the grocery store or out to eat, we go as a family.”
“This trip is going to afford us the opportunity to get away and get lost in one another’s company as a couple for the first time in three years at Fort Carson, Colo.,” he said.
“I got pretty lucky coming to this unit. I’ve met some amazing people that I’ll have a bond with most likely until the day I die,” Randy said.
Randy, who spent seven months in the field training for deployment, said he also is very lucky to have Chelsea.
“Everything was on her shoulders. She had to be the mommy and the daddy, basically a single parent with no family or help for hundreds of miles until I got back. It’s a lot, and more than I initially considered when the decision was made to go active duty from the reserves. But this is what puts the food on the table, the clothes on my child’s back and a roof over my family’s head,” he said.
“My husband is our backbone. I’m very grateful my son has such an amazing father to grow up with. I’m certainly grateful I have Randy to support me in my decisions, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us. Also, a huge, huge, huge ‘thank you’ to Things Remembered for giving us this opportunity,” Chelsea said.