Two Long Islanders are among the stars of the new Lifetime reality show “Love at First Flight,” premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m. Couples paired by matchmakers embark on a month of flights across North America, getting to know each other and even given the chance to get married at an airport after their final leg. Meet Michael Naccari, 30, an accountant from Wantagh, and Stephanie Ver Eecke, 29, a wedding singer from Babylon, who weren’t paired with each other.
Naccari, the youngest of five siblings, was born in New Hyde Park and raised in Wantagh, where he graduated from high school in 2004. Before returning here, he attended SUNY Plattsburgh, graduating in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. The son of retired clinical psychologist Dr. Nicholas Naccari and retired nurse Kathleen Naccari, he walks regularly with the Long Island chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “in honor,” he tells Newsday, “of my brother Kevin,” who died July 9, 2009, at age 41.
Ver Eecke, born in Plainview, grew up in Huntington, and attended Harborfields High School in Greenlawn — alma mater of another singer, Mariah Carey, class of ’87 — as well as Nassau BOCES Long Island High School for the Arts, graduating from both in 2006.
The second of four children ranging in age from 15 to 40, Ver Eecke earned a bachelor of fine arts in theater arts from Five Towns college in Dix Hills. As well, she interned for an acting manager in Tarrytown three days a week. “I did find my first true love at Five Towns,” she says. “We dated for seven years. Our first kiss was when he was Hamlet, and I was Ophelia!”
She calls her mother, Peggy, who works for Blackman Plumbing Supply, “probably the funniest person I’ve ever met. Although my parents are divorced, they both did a great job at always supporting my decisions in life. They would always say, ‘Stephanie, you can be whatever you want to be in life. Find someone who loves you for you, and never settle.’ ”
Like Naccari, she supports a cause for a fallen relative — the breast-cancer charity Genevieve’s Helping Hands, in honor of her cousin Genevieve, “who sadly passed away at the age of 34,” Ver Eecke says. “She was diagnosed at 32 with an aggressive form of cancer. She was a strong, independent, beautiful person, mother and wife. I hope to spread the kind of compassion and impact the way she did.”
Naccari became involved with “Love at First Flight,” he says, because in addition to his love of travel, “I was at a point in my life where I was newly single and needed a change. I had been getting sick of the same old dating scene, which always lead back to the same place, me being single. I needed to step outside the box and try something new and ultimately find someone new.”
For Ver Eecke, “I have been through a lot of relationships, and I’m at the point in my life where I want to settle down and start a family with the right person. I just want to get it right. I remember thinking, ‘Stephanie, if you could have anything you want right now, what would it be?’ In my head and on paper, I said, ‘To travel the world with the love of my life.’ So, I guess I manifested this! This was my dream, and you’ll have to tune in to see what happens!”