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Amber Nelson, left, and her husband Brett didn't have a honeymoon because of Brett's military duties. Special to The Forum

Fargo couple's love story stirs Mariah Carey

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In the 22 years that Amber Nelson has been buying Mariah Carey's albums, the Fargo woman has probably spent a fair bit of money.

Now, the singer is repaying the favor, and then some.

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Nelson and her husband Brett recently won an all-inclusive Caribbean trip - valued at more than $6,000 - from the singer's "14 Days of Forever Love" contest.

Nelson says she's been a fan of Carey's ever since the singer released her first, self-titled album in 1990. Nelson saw the contest advertised back in January and decided to give it a shot.

To enter, Nelson had to describe her and her husband's love story in 250 words or less. Given what the couple has been through together, it's hardly a surprise they ended up winning.

Amber Nelson, originally from Fertile, Minn., and Brett Nelson, a North Dakota National Guardsman from Cavalier, N.D., were married in 2004, just a day before he was scheduled to ship off to Iraq.

"We never really had a honeymoon," Amber Nelson says.

In her contest entry, Nelson wrote, "I can't put into words how bad my heart hurt when I'd hear his voice over the static-filled phone lines amidst gunshots and bombs in the distance."

Then in 2009, Brett Nelson was deployed on a 12-month tour to Kosovo, but was able to make it back to Fargo to see the birth of the couple's third child.

"Despite the difficulty war and separation can have on a marriage, along with everything else, we have had no problem starting where we left off," Amber Nelson wrote.

On Friday, several months after she entered the contest, Nelson actually found out through Carey's Facebook page that her story had been voted the favorite.

"I was pretty shocked and excited," she says of winning.

On the page, Carey left the couple a video message of congratulations. That the honeymoon they never had will come courtesy of her favorite singer is what's most meaningful about the whole thing, Nelson says.

"When my husband was gone, a lot of (Carey's) music and her lyrics helped me get through the tough times," Nelson says. "Her music in particular just helped me to get through it. To get the trip from her is - I can't even describe."

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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