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Groom-to-be asks brother with Down syndrome to be his best man with a surprise treasure hunt

The brothers have shared an inseparable bond since childhood and now their love is winning the internet.

Groom-to-be asks brother with Down syndrome to be his best man with a surprise treasure hunt
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Will Claussen

Will Claussen has always known that when it came time to wed the love of his life, he wanted his younger brother Henry right by his side. Inseparable pretty much since the time of Henry's birth and their relationship only grew stronger when Will proved to be the first one in their large family to understand and be able to communicate with Henry, who has Down syndrome. So after the 24-year-old proposed to his girlfriend of two-and-a-half years, AJ Johns, on the 4th of July, Will immediately began thinking up the perfect way to ask his brother to be his best man.


And find it he did. Wanting to make the moment an unforgettable event and a complete surprise for his best friend, Will decided to incorporate Henry's love for metal detecting into his grand scheme. He hid a note containing a heartwarming message for his beloved brother inside a bottle and buried it near the family's log cabin by Ten-Mile lake in Hackensack, Northern Minnesota, earlier this month. The brothers then set out on a treasure hunt with Henry's metal detector while AJ filmed the exciting moments leading up to the 22-year-old discovering Will's message.


The video, which has since gone viral on social media, begins with Henry discovering something under the sand and shoveling the ground to unearth the bottle. Although he immediately suspects that his brother might have had something to do with the message in a bottle, Will assures him that he does not and encourages him to read the note. "Henry Joe, you are already the best bro and also the best friend. So will you please say 'yes' to being my best man? Love Will," Henry reads out loud and instantly lights up as he realizes what just happened.


Will, who is from Mankato, Minnesota, told BBC that he had been planning the message in a bottle ever since he proposed to AJ. "I always knew that Henry was going to be my best man. We have been pretty much inseparable since he was born," he said. "I decided to use one of his favorite hobbies, metal detecting, as a way to ask him to be my best man." The groom-to-be explained that he'd kept Henry hanging for a little while to make the moment even more memorable for him. "Henry was beginning to worry he was going to get left out of the wedding party—he was so happy when he read the message," he said.


"I always knew Henry was going to be my best man, but I kept him on the ropes a little bit, kept him a little nervous until I knew I was going to ask," Will told WCCO. "Then I brought that plan out of my back pocket and it worked perfectly. He loved it." Speaking of their relationship, he explained: "I think I was one of the first, if not the first, to understand and communicate with Henry, so we've had a special bond, essentially since he was born. We've got 22 years of great experience. We're just so proud of each other. We're both each other's biggest fans."


Henry, who says Will is one of his best friends, gushed about his brother's constant support and encouragement. When asked if he is nervous about having to share his brother with a woman, he said: "Not really, but I’m excited to have another sister, so I really like that." Speaking to World News Tonight about Will and AJ's July 2021 wedding, he said, "I'm happy for my brother. I'm happy for their marriage. And I'm so proud of them so much. I'm so excited for the wedding because I can't wait to see the kiss... they'll have a lot of presents, cake, happiness, dance, and so yeah!"


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