Par­a­lyzed Bride Walks Down the Aisle!

A de­ter­mined wheelchair-us­ing bride says ‘I do’ while stand­ing on her own two feet

In Touch (USA) - - Real life -

In July 2008, Jaquie broke her neck div­ing into a friend’s pool. “I used hu­mor to cope,” she tells In Touch of her first years in a wheelchair. “But I also threw my­self lots of pity par­ties.”

Like most brides, Jaquie Goncher was ner­vous on her wed­ding day. But she had more on her mind than just say­ing “I do.” Af­ter slip­ping into her blush-hued dress, match­ing lace-up flats and a crown of flow­ers, Jaquie — who’s spent the last eight years in a wheelchair fol­low­ing a freak 2008 div­ing ac­ci­dent that left her par­a­lyzed — ap­peared at the back of the venue flanked by her mom and grand­fa­ther. “Most peo­ple there,” says Jaquie, “as­sumed I was just go­ing to roll down the aisle.”

In­stead, she stood up — and slowly walked to her beam­ing groom. “There were a lot of tears,” Jaquie, 26, tells In Touch of sur­pris­ing friends and fam­ily at her May 2016 wed­ding in At­lanta. (Her fi­ancé was in on the se­cret.) She’d al­ready proven doc­tors wrong af­ter gru­el­ing phys­i­cal ther­apy helped her learn to stand and walk short dis­tances sup­ported by a wall. But when her boyfriend, Andy Goncher, 35, pro­posed in Au­gust 2015, she de­cided to push her­self harder than ever. “I was afraid I wasn’t go­ing to en­joy my wed­ding the way I wanted to — wheelchair­free — and that got me into the gym,” she says. “Walk­ing down the aisle was some­thing I knew I was go­ing to do.”

Jaquie was 17 when her life changed for­ever. “I re­mem­ber div­ing into a friend’s pool, and imme- di­ately af­ter, I was float­ing face­down,” the free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher re­calls. Pals dragged her to the steps, but “My head just flopped over onto the con­crete.” Af­ter surgery, Jaquie learned the chill­ing di­ag­no­sis: She’d frac­tured her C1 and C2 ver­te­brae and shat­tered her C5, leav­ing her par­a­lyzed from the chest down. Her chances of walk­ing again, the sur­geon told her mom, “were too small to even put a num­ber on.”

Over time, she re­gained some mo­bil­ity. Bol­stered by her faith and an in­tense re­hab pro­gram, Jaquie could stand for five min­utes at a time and walk short dis­tances. In July 2013, she met Andy, a dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany man­ager, on a dat­ing app, and love quickly bloomed. Five months be­fore their wed­ding, she started hit­ting the gym for two hours a day, six days a week. “In the past, I’d been an­gry and bit­ter and I’d quit, but this time was dif­fer­ent. I wanted to be able to stand through the cer­e­mony. I wanted to dance and not worry about how close my wheelchair was.”

She did it all — for four hours. Now, af­ter a hon­ey­moon in Port­land, Ore., Jaquie’s de­ter­mined to keep up her work­outs and use a cane, rather than her wheelchair, more of­ten. “My goal is to run next,” she ex­plains be­fore re­veal­ing a new dream: “And Andy and I are try­ing to start a fam­ily.” — Re­port­ing

by Darla Mur­ray

Poppy has soul­ful eyes and a sweet smile, just like the ac­tress. “She also al­ways winds up be­ing the cen­ter of at­ten­tion,” says owner Is­ley Ze­gas. “But she’s noth­ing like Rachel’s char­ac­ter!”

I shopped on­line for … things for my apart­ment. I love the Fancy app!

TRAGIC AC­CI­DENT HIT­TING THE GYM HARD “I wanted to build up my en­durance,” Jaquie says of her com­mit­ment to phys­i­cal ther­apy in the months ahead of her wed­ding. Her wheelchair!

MAGIC MO­MENT “When I got to the end of the aisle and I was stand­ing there with Andy,” Jaquie re­calls, “I felt like there was noth­ing else around us.”

Poppy, Mont­clair, N.J. RACHEL MCADAMS! Note­book

Can we read about this style choice on GOOP? This re­al­ity star of­ten re­veals too much. She can’t shoot ar­rows in this dar­ing num­ber. Not the cra­zi­est thing in this songstress’ closet! Only a model can make this an ev­ery­day look. This Brit singer’s look is

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