A woman accused of ‘using’ her Paralympic partner for social media fame after the pair went viral on TikTok has admitted he didn’t think she was ‘real’ when she showed interest because he wasn’t ‘usual’ that people are nice to him’.
Brody Roybal, 23, has been missing both legs since birth and has won gold medals for Team USA at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Paralympics with ice hockey.
He started dating girlfriend Menecis Garriga, 23, three years ago, and the couple has since racked up 1.5 million followers and 40 million likes on their shared TikTok page.
The pair first met at a nursery in Chicago, Illinois, and later became best friends before Brody Menecis — who was accused of using her partner for TikTok fame through online trolling — asked for the prom.
Speaking about the beginning of their friendship, Menecis said, “I think it was overwhelming for him because he wasn’t used to people being nice to him, so he didn’t know if I was being sincere. But I kept talking to him.’
A woman accused of ‘using’ her Paralympic partner for social media fame after the pair went viral on TikTok has admitted he didn’t think she was ‘real’ when she showed interest because he wasn’t ‘usual’ that people are nice to him’. Pictured, Brody Roybal and Menecis Garriga
Brody Roybal (pictured with his girlfriend), 23, has been missing both legs since birth and has won gold medals for Team USA at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Paralympics with ice sled hockey
He started dating girlfriend Menecis, 23, three years ago, and the couple has since racked up 1.5 million followers and 40 million likes on their shared TikTok page (pictured)
Their friendship soon grew 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 made their relationship official in August 2018.
Brody said, “My parents taught me from an early age to never limit myself and try everything I wanted to do.
“As I get older, I realize that my disability requires no limitation. I try to look at everything positively.’
Menecis, who studied business at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), said, “A lot of times people are afraid to go out with someone with a disability because it’s very new and they don’t know what it’s going to be like.
‘But there are many more things that come with a disability. When I look at Brody, I don’t see half a person. What he lacks in his body, he more than makes up for with his personality.
The couple (pictured) first met in the nursery in Chicago, Illinois, and later became best friends
“He’s one of the nicest, most caring souls I’ve ever met. He won’t let anything stop him—and I’ve never been happier.’
The couple first met as four-year-olds when they went to the same school and lived near each other.
Menecis said: ‘We sat together in the street, we met on the first day of kindergarten. We went to all the same schools, we were best friends and we talked every day.’
Brody and Menecis then went to middle and high school together and remained friends until Brody asked her to go to the 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. We didn’t like each other in high school because I was really nice to him.
“I think that was overwhelming for him because he wasn’t used to people being nice to him, so he didn’t know if I was being sincere. But I kept talking to him.
Brody asked Menecis, who says she has never treated her partner differently because of his disability, to the prom (pictured)
Their friendship soon grew into a romantic relationship, but Brody moved to Arizona to attend college, so it was put on hold. In the photo, 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 things away or picked them up to talk.
“I also jumped in the elevator and let him talk to me and our relationship blossomed. He was always there for me no matter what happened and that really cemented it. He asked me about the prom and then I knew we were more.’
But Brody moved to Arizona in 2016 to attend college to study communications, so they put their relationship on hold.
Menecis said, “There was an understanding that there wasn’t going to be a major breakup, we just decided to be together until the summer was over and that was it.”
But a year later, Brody was invited to New York for a hockey tournament. He saw Menasis and knew they couldn’t be apart, so he officially asked her out in August 2018.
A year later, the couple (pictured) realized they couldn’t be apart and made their relationship official in August 2018
She recalled: “Then our relationship started well and we’ve been together ever since. Because I knew him growing up, I know that he is more than his handicap.
“I never put a limit on him and he never put a limit on himself. It hasn’t affected our relationship as much as people think. Just because you have something different doesn’t mean you can’t work around it.
“He cooks and I do the cleaning. We find ways to adapt. We also have great parents and they never let him do anything.
“They show him that he can do anything and my parents were adamant that you are no different than anyone else.
She added: “As children it was visible, and children would point and stare at him. But it was the last thing on my mind.’
Brody said, “Life just has a crazy way of training. 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.’
On their TikTok page, we see the couple (pictured) participating in viral dance trends, creating comedy skits and sharing clips of their adorable Dachshund
Meanwhile, Menecis appeared on This Morning Monday from their home in Tennessee to discuss the response to their viral TikToks.
“In the beginning – because nothing prepares you for the judgment of people you don’t know, we’ve been lucky all our lives growing up with the same people and having that support – when a stranger came and questioned my love for Brody pulled, I thought they were kidding.
“When I realized that people really thought I was using Brody, it really hurt me at first and it came from Brody, he said, ‘These people don’t know us, they don’t know everything we’ve been through, they know I don’t know we’ve known each other all our lives, so why should anyone control how you feel about me?”
“I could finally sit back and laugh a little at the thought of people thinking you should use someone. ‘
On their TikTok page, we see the couple participating in viral dance trends, creating comedy skits and sharing clips of their adorable dachshund.
Brody says Menecis is very “expressive about her love” and the couple are sharing their story on YouTube, with already 4.87K subscribers.