By Jessica Dean
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When the Philadelphia wedding community heard about a terminally ill man and his love story, they had to help. Eyewitness News anchor Jessica Dean was there as the couple exchanged their vows today, surrounded by friends, family and faith that they will be together for many more years to come.
Under bright blue skies as a string quartet played, bride Melanie Gaskins walked into a new life with her groom, Pierre Freeman. The moment is bittersweet. In 2008, Pierre’s doctors found an inoperable brain tumor.
“They told me I should have been dead six years ago,” Pierre said, “and they told me recently I’ve got three months to a year to live.”
With all the medical bills, Pierre and Melanie couldn’t afford a wedding. So vendors gave them a wedding free Thursday through the non-profit Wish Upon a Wedding — a wedding including a classical quartet, flowers, and photographers.
“They donated their time, their services, their products, without question,” said Randi Martin of Wish Upon a Wedding.
Stratus Lounge at Hotel Monaco opened its doors to the couple for the big day.
Bob Dmuchowski of Hotel Monaco said, “We’ve had people come in on their days off and help us with this as well.”
The vendors estimate this wedding would have cost $20,000 to $25,000.
Philadelphia’s chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding has hosted four weddings so far this year for couples facing terminal illness, a day for happiness instead of hospitals.
Arianna Melton, daughter of the bride, said, “They’ve always been happy together, but this really brought meaning to it.”
“I don’t feel weak today,” Pierre said. “I feel strong, and I’m so happy.”
Eyewitness News anchor Jessica Dean spoke to the bride: “You saw the people that love you the most. What is that like?”
“Complete,” Melanie said.
The bride joked Pierre could have moved a little faster. “He’s a slow mover. That’s why it took so long,” she said.
But with gladness in their hearts, they arrived.
There are more couples facing a terminal illness, and Wish Upon a Wedding wants to hear from them. Couples can apply online at: wishuponawedding.org