Emotional moment when bride gets to dance with her dying father on her wedding day

Aby Rivas
Nov 30, 2018
06:20 A.M.

A bride was able to dance with her terminally-ill father on her wedding, after fearing he wouldn’t be able to attend.


Vanessa Wickham, 24, from San Diego, California was able to share her special day with her father, Lew Johnston, 65, who is in the end stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They had months of uncertainty, not knowing if Lew would be able to attend the wedding because of the high-altitude of the venue.

Lew was diagnosed with the chronic disease, which obstructs airflow to the lungs, 20 years ago. His condition has been worsening in the past few months, and now he needs oxygen 24/7 to keep breathing.


So, when Vanessa and his college sweetheart fiancé, Mike Wickham, 25, choose their venue in Lake Arrowhead, California, they were afraid Lew wouldn’t make it, as it is 4,000ft above sea level.


Doctors warned Lew that his lungs could collapse with the altitude, but he was not going to let his illness stop him from witnessing his daughter’s wedding. So, he did a practice run to Arrowhead, knowing the risks he was taking.

Luckily for everyone involved, the practice was a success and doctors gave him clearance to attend his daughter’s wedding at Arrowhead Pine Rose Cabins.


A clip from the pair's father-daughter dance to Elton John’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” has gone viral, as it shows Vanessa and Lew slowly moving in the middle of the dance floor, with the man holding his oxygen tank in a medium-sized bag on his shoulder.

“It was amazing to have my dad there. It was such a special moment to dance with him. We thought he wouldn't be able to come to my wedding because of the altitude and that was such a worrying few weeks. It would have devastated me, and I was so relieved when his doctors cleared him to go,” Vanessa told Daily Mail.



Lew, a former construction business owner, and father of three added:

“My illness is so bad now I really am lucky to get out of the house. To walk Vanessa down the aisle was the highlight of my life. She took my breath away. I felt like I was walking on air when I was walking her down the aisle. I didn't even notice my oxygen machine over my shoulder.”

The man also added that when they were dancing, he felt as if there’s was no one else in the room. It was a magical moment.


Now, Lew is hoping to live enough to witness another of Vanessa’s milestones in life:

“It's a little greedy of me, but I would love to meet a grandchild,” he said. “But I've had a good life, and I take it day by day. If I wake up in the morning that's great.”



On a similar story, when Michaela Cook-Yotts got married, she decided to gift her best friend and her father with an unforgettable dance.

Jessica Otto's dad, Peter Otto, had cancer for the fourth time and he wasn’t doing good. Knowing that her friend’s dad had very little time, Cook-Yotts and her wife came up with the idea of giving the Ottos the chance to have the dance that otherwise they would miss.


“They called our names and had us come up there, and he knew," said Jessica. They danced to a remix version of "Every Breath You Take." "It was so selfless of them to take time at their wedding to give us this moment."

My dad is a man of very few words, he doesn't express how he feels, he doesn’t say it, but he shows it. He hugged us close to him," Jessica Otto said.

Cook-Yotts and her wife agreed that "It was the best part of the wedding. There wasn't a dry eye in the house."

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