Paralyzed Bride Walks Down the Aisle!
A determined wheelchair-using bride says ‘I do’ while standing on her own two feet
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
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