Enduring Love: Davidson College Couple Live Their Vows, 20 years and an ALS Diagnosis Later

A picture frame of Andrea and David sharing a kiss in their wedding clothes

Whether they are sitting on the couch together watching Survivor or doing an interview on the Today Show, these two show up for each other fully and joyfully. Their love, kindness to and acceptance of each other and their heartfelt joy to be together makes the world a more loving, gentle and accepting place.

Shaw Hipsher ‘03

The bride sported sparkly Chuck Taylor high-tops under her floor-length, strapless white gown.

The thin black satin sash around Andrea Lytle’s waist matched David Peet’s tuxedo and her bridesmaids’ cocktail dresses. The couple locked eyes as they promised to love each other through good times and bad, and to “comfort each other in sickness, trouble and sorrow.” 

Later at the reception, they looked a little bashful when the DJ called them out for their first dance. Then nerves disappeared as they danced to Falling Slowly, a song they first heard in the movie Once.

The roomful of smiling wedding guests watched them, but the newlyweds seemed a world away as they sang to each other: “Take this sinking boat and point it home. We’ve still got time. Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice. You’ll make it now. Falling slowly, eyes that know me...”

They had no idea how much more meaning those lyrics would someday take on. Or how life would blindside them, putting their vows to a heartbreaking test. 

Today, some 20 years after they first met in a Davidson College Spanish class, their devotion to each other grows ever stronger. They’ve faced the sorrow and challenges of a cruel illness with determination, humor and grace.


On this Valentine’s Day, amid the cards, flowers and chocolates—the sweet treats of romance—we celebrate the Peets, and true love. 

Andrea and David Peet Sitting Together

Andrea and David today

Always Each Other

He’s become her biggest advocate, it’s a dedication to her and her love that motivates him. There’s no question in his mind that he will always be there for her.

David Peet Jr., David’s dad

They started out as friends. After Spanish class, Andrea Lytle ’03 would walk David Peet ’05 to the Chambers basement, alleging a craving for a Dr Pepper. He didn’t know that she had to race back upstairs and was always late for her next class. 

Friendship evolved into love, and survived distance. He studied abroad in Chile, then later, attended law school in Washington, D.C., while she went to graduate school in Georgia.

At the wedding, they celebrated finally being together in the same city, and their happiness filled the room. A few years later, David Peet, a lawyer, and Andrea Lytle Peet, an urban planner, had settled into their careers, bought a house outside Washington, D.C., and hoped to have children. 

A ruthless intruder had other plans.

Andrea, an avid triathlete, started experiencing muscle tightness, and balance problems that caused her to fall. She felt a disconnect between her brain and muscles. In 2014, after months of seeing different specialists, they got a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It’s a neurogenerative disease that causes the brain to stop sending signals to muscles, leading to paralysis. Those with ALS have a median life span of three years after symptoms begin. About 10 percent live 10 or more years with ALS.

The diagnosis devastated them. That night, as they mourned in their hotel room, they made this promise: “We kept telling each other that regardless of how painful it all was,” David says, “we’d have each other—that we’d always share this pain together.”

Every Step of the Way

True to their wedding vows they love each other well and have dedicated themselves to a lifetime of fruitful service.

Sandy Lytle, Andrea’s mom

They relocated to Raleigh so that Andrea, an only child, could be closer to her parents. And they began to turn their pain into action.

Andrea completed what she thought would be her last triathlon, with her lifelong friend Julie Wesner by her side. They came in an hour behind the rest of the athletes and were amazed to find that a big crowd had stayed to cheer them on.  

When she felt the outpouring of love and support that day, she realized that she could inspire others. She and David created the non-profit Team Drea Foundation, which raises money to fund ALS research. Andrea serves as president, and the foundation has raised more than $750,000.

She’s also on course to become the first person with ALS to complete marathons in all 50 states, riding a specially designed trike. Her races have garnered extensive local and national media coverage, and filmmakers are creating a documentary about her quest.

David Peet, now a Raleigh lawyer, goes to as many races as he can. Friends step in when he can’t. They schedule vacations so she can participate in several at a time in different regions of the country. 

“I knew he was the best man for me when I married him, but I had no idea,” Andrea says. “The depth of love and compassion he shows me every day is the best gift I will ever receive. No matter what happens, I know that I am the luckiest woman to love and be loved by him.”

David says Andrea (“incredibly smart, fun, kind and beautiful…her default setting is happy and optimistic”) inspires him—and so many others—to seek the best in themselves.

“She’s such a thoughtful person,” he says. “She’s so impressive and has touched so many people by having her story out there. She has not let her challenges define her and has tried her best to give a voice and a face to a community that has been overlooked.

“I want to make every single one of her goals and dreams come true, and I want to be with her every step of the way.”

Enduring Love

Andrea and David have given my children—and all of us—an incredible model of a beautiful love that endures, and that builds each partner up, as they’ve undertaken adventures big and small. They have a truly precious relationship, with such profound support for each other that they feel—and are—able to take on the world together.

Alison Peet Dowling, David’s sister

David Peet Jr. remembers first meeting Andrea after one of his son’s Davidson Generals acapella concerts.

“It was clear they were very serious; you could just see the love in their eyes and you still can,” he says. “You can’t always choose what life brings your way, but you can choose how you deal with it. They have been so steadfast with the marathons and the fundraising; it’s given both of them a purpose beyond themselves. 

“They have grown in spirit; they have not been diminished by the disease or let it beat them.”

Their loved ones describe the mischievous glances and quick grins the couple often share—a testament to two decades of inside jokes. David still serenades Andrea acapella-style with silly jingles that make her laugh. 

And comforts her when she’s down. 

Ashley Griffith Kollme ’05 looked out her window after the Peets visited one day. Andrea had a tough time physically and seemed upset when they left. 

“I saw Dave standing with her, cupping her face, looking at her so lovingly and offering what looked like the most sincere words of encouragement,” Kollme says. “In that moment, I think a million messages of love were conveyed.” 

Learn more about Andrea Peet's journey and work to change lives in the Fall/Winter 2021 Davidson Journal magazine.