A woman demonstrated how powerful the human will could be when she willed her legs to function enough to let her walk down the aisle and dance at her wedding. Here are the details.
Love trumps all, and because of Jennifer Darmon's uplifting story, it is clear even disabilities are not enough to stop the love ship once it sets sail.
Darmon was a bank teller from Windsor, Canada, with a bright future ahead of her as a banker. While on her job, she met Mike Belawetz, a shy paramedic, and he took a liking to her.
Jennifer Darmon at the rehab center | Source: Youtube/ Rehab Institute
He continued to return to the same bank three times a week just so he could see the woman that had captivated him, and eventually, they started dating.
They had only started falling in love when, in 2008, tragedy struck. The pair had been on a road trip with some friends when a car swerved into their lane and collided head-on with their van.
Jennifer Darmon and Mike Belawetz at the rehab center | Source: Youtube/ Rehab Institute
All were able to climb out of the wreck, but Darmon had been unable to. She was trapped in the wreckage, and it took all of Belawetz's skills as a paramedic to extract her, after which he ran a quick evaluation. The moment he ran his hand down her spinal column, he knew there would be severe consequences for her. Darmon said:
"I couldn't feel my legs. I went into hysterics. I was screaming and crying and not really knowing what was going on."
Jennifer Darmon at the rehab center | Source: Youtube/ Rehab Institute
A SEVERE DIAGNOSIS
At the hospital, doctors were shocked by the extent of Darmon's injuries. They told her that it was the most damaged they had ever seen nerves that were not completely severed, and consequently, it meant she would never be able to use her legs.
She had to endure many surgeries and tough three-hour physical therapy sessions three times a week. To make it for those treatments, Darmon would make 45-minute drives from her home in Windsor, Canada, to the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit in her car.
It had been modified so she could accelerate with a hand crank. At the same time, she could not help but wonder if it was all too much for Belawetz, so she would always tell him he could leave if he didn't want someone like her for the rest of his life.
Jennifer Darmon and Mike Belawetz at the rehab center | Source: Youtube/ ABC News
A PROMISE TO STAY
Belawetz was well aware of what he was getting himself into by remaining with Darmon, and even though she gave him the option to leave a few times, he never took it.
Instead, he would drive three hours, three times a week, just to be with her at the rehab center. He never left her side, and neither did he make her feel less of herself about what was happening. Finally, after four years of dating, Belawetz proposed to Darmon, and she said yes.
Jennifer Darmon at the rehab center | Source: Youtube/ ABC News
AN UNBENDING WILL
Darmon should have given up on her legs the moment doctors gave their verdict, but she did not. Instead, after her lover proposed to her, she decided that she would do her best to have the kind of wedding that was almost denied her the moment she lost total use of her legs.
From that time on, she willed her legs to move and started practicing. At first, she wanted to be able to get up and walk a bit, but it was not an easy task, so she started using braces to practice.
Mike Belawetz waiting on his bride to walk into the wedding hall | Source: Youtube/ Rehab Institute
She had a lot of help from her trainer at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, which she chose because of its intense programs, openness, and adequate infrastructure.
Videos that captured her journey as she attempted to reach her goals were made and shared via the Rehab institute's YouTube page.
It documented her progress and kept those interested in her case hopeful that she would be ready for her upcoming wedding.
Jennifer Darmon walking down the aisle on her wedding day, with the help of her father and brother | Source: Youtube/ ABC News
The process was grueling, and results only trickled in, but Darmon never gave up. She was adamant about not rolling down the altar in a wheelchair; to that end, she never missed a session.
They were going to use a walker and her braces, but Belawetz suggested they use two people, one at each side, to support her on her walk down the aisle. She chose her father and her brother.
As time passed, she was offered a wedding dress from a newlywed woman at the institute so she could practice with the heavy material ahead of her big day.
Jennifer Darmon and Mike Belawetz taking their wedding vows | Source: Youtube/ Rehab Institute
It was a huge help because the gown covered her feet, so she had to get used to not seeing her feet or looking down to ensure her placement wasn't off.
After getting used to the weight, she started practicing how she would dance with Belawetz, who was always clear that they would have the wedding whether she rolled down the aisle or walked.
The dance was clumsy at first, but after a bit of practice, the pair were able to pull it off without her stepping on his toes too much.
Jennifer Darmon and Mike Belawetz dancing at their wedding ceremony | Source: Youtube/ Rehab Institute
THE WEDDING SHE DREAMED OF
Thanks to all the practice she got and her determination, Darmon's wedding day happened precisely the way she had envisioned it. Her father and brother walked her down the aisle, and at the end of that walk, her handsome groom was waiting with love in his eyes.
Before that day, most of her and Belawetz's family had not seen her walk, so it was a pleasant surprise when they watched her take those steps toward her husband. She said about the event:
"It's so nice for everyone to see the end result. All the work I've put into it over the last couple of years."
After exchanging vows, the newly married couple took to the dance floor, where they showed off the dance they had spent so much time practicing.
Belawetz may have been the proudest man at the venue. After the wedding, he said:
"I'm proud of my wife -- her accomplishments. And it just feels really great to be here today."
It was a beautiful start to a heaven-made union, and hopefully, their family is doing even better. Their story is proof that love knows no limits and will always win no matter what.
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