Tracy Edinger was trying on bridal gowns at an Ohio boutique when the shop manager approached her with an unlikely offer. “I would consider it an honor if I could buy your dress for you,” said Melisa Heming, a manager at Expressions Bridal in Mentor, Ohio. Heming's act of kindness is part of a spectacular community effort to foot the bill for one woman's dream wedding.
Last May, Edinger, 42, was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Edinger and her fiancé, who met on St. Patrick's Day at a local pub, have been together for four years. After her diagnosis, Edinger tells Yahoo Shine, the pair's relationship has only gotten stronger. "I love him with all of my heart, especially with what we’ve gone through," she says.
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When word got out about Edinger's wish to wed her fiancé, Andy Basiger, 36, the couple’s Ohio community rallied to make her special day affordable and, more important, unforgettable. GLG Memorial, a fundraising organization for cancer sufferers, was the first of many to sign on to help. The Mentor, Ohio-based charity gave $750 to Edinger to ease the cost of her medical bills and then set to work using local relationships to fund the fairy-tale ceremony.
David Keatley, president of GLG Memorial, tells Yahoo Shine that there has been an incredible outpouring of support and that they’ve even had to turn away vendors who have volunteered their time and services. Everything for the big day, which will take place Feb. 15, has been donated, including the flowers, photography, catering, cake, and more.
After Heming, the bridal shop manager, bought Edinger her dress, other employees at the same boutique followed suit. The bride-to-be walked away with a veil, shoes, various accessories, and even the alterations — all courtesy of Expressions' shopkeepers. “They’re pretty awesome ladies,” Marcy Hudson, the shop's owner, tells Yahoo Shine. “I don’t pay them a ton of money. They’re just really humble, and it’s an honor to work with them.“
Even the honeymoon is free of charge for the couple — the Dream Foundation is covering the costs of flights and accommodations in Las Vegas — and GLG Memorial, as well as a GoFundMe page, is raising funds for spending money.
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It's not the first time a bride in need has gotten a little extra financial help from her community. In July, more than 40 San Francisco vendors banded together to help with wedding preparations for Jen Bulik, who suffered from terminal lung cancer. She passed away in October.
For Edinger, who has faced mounting medical bills and spends a majority of her time at doctor's appointments, the cost and time spent planning a wedding wasn't a priority. "We would never have had the funds to do anything like this. It would have been just me and Andy at a small church." But for those around her, her happiness is worth every penny. Heming, who paid for Edinger's dress, put it perfectly: “You help out your fellow humans," she says. "You just do.”
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