This is such a bittersweet wedding story that we just had to share with all of you! A bride walked down the aisle on her wedding day with the man who received her father’s donated heart after he was killed nearly 10 years ago. The man traveled from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to walk her down the aisle. Read more about this wonderful story below.
Jeni’s father, Michael Stepien, 53, was killed in September 2006 as he was walking home from his job as a head chef at a restaurant. He was robbed at gunpoint by a 16-year old while cutting through an alley, when he was shot. The family decided to donate his organs through an organization called the Center for Organ Recovery and Education. This organization allows donor families and the recipients to keep in touch with one another after a transplant.
After donating his organs, Arthur Thomas, who is a father of four who lives in Lawrenceville, N.J., was within days of dying. He had been given a diagnosis of ventricular tachycardia about 16 years before and had gone into congestive heart failure when word arrived that his doctors had found a heart.
After the surgery, Thomas decided to write a thank you note to the family and their relationship began from there. Once Ms. Stepien got engaged, her fiance suggested that she write a letter to Thomas to ask him to walk her down the aisle. He said yes, but only after running it by his 30-year-old daughter first.
Here is a video from ABC News on Jeni Stepien and Arthur Thomas, who came to walk her down the aisle on the day of her wedding.
Jeni Stepien said in an article in the New York Times, “I was just thinking, ‘My dad is here with us, and this man is here with us because of us.’ ”
The wedding was held at the same church in Swissvale that Stepien’s parents were married. Mr. Thomas and the bride formally met, for the first time in person, one day earlier.
To read more details, check out the entire article on the New York Times.