A bride was able to share her special day with a tiny piece of her father who was murdered 10 years ago. Every little girl dreams of the day her father can walk her down the aisle to the man of her dreams, for Pennsylvania bride Jeni Stepien it was no different. However, 10 years ago, those dreams were seemingly crushed when her father Michael was murdered. Following his death, the man’s heart was transplanted into Arthur Thomas who had been waiting 16 years for a donor and was nearing his own death. The Stepien family and Thomas would spend a decade writing letters to one another and speaking on the phone; however, it wasn’t until Jeni’s special day that Arthur Thomas would meet the family of the man who saved his life and be honored with the task of using Michael’s heart in the most heartwarming way possible.
The Daily Mail reports that bride Jeni Stepien wanted one thing for her wedding day and that was for a man she has never met to walk her down the aisle. Jeni’s father was murdered 10 years ago and his heart was donated to a New Jersey man Arthur Thomas. The man had reportedly been waiting 16 years for a desperately needed heart and was on death’s doorstep when Jeni’s father Michael was killed. Thomas would thrive after receiving the man’s heart and stayed in contact with the grieving family through letters and phone calls.
However, little did Arthur know that 10 years later, he would be standing with a young bride on her wedding day, ensuring a piece of her father was present to give her away to the man she would marry. Before her wedding, Jeni Stepien contact Arthur about attending her wedding so that she could hear her father’s heart on her wedding day. Jeni asked Arthur if he would be willing to walk her down the aisle in honor of her father and he agreed. Arthur said he “couldn’t imagine a greater honor” but noted he did ask his own daughter first before agreeing.
“What a greater honor could a person have than walking the daughter of the man who’s given his heart to him.”
Arthur traveled from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to attend Jeni’s wedding and to meet the Stepien family for the first time. The bride immediately embraced the man and heard a familiar sound, her father’s heart. Jeni exclaimed “the whole family is here now” when Arthur arrived and said that having this man she had never met present was exactly what she needed on her wedding day.
“Just hugging him made me feel like I was close to my dad again. On this day it was perfect. It was what I needed.”
Jeni says that the wedding was the best day of her life and that having Arthur there made it all possible. In fact, Jeni says that though she knew her father would be at the wedding in spirit, thanks to Arthur a small piece of his physical being was there as well.
“I was just so thankful that my dad could be here with us today in spirit and a piece of his physical being as well. That was really special for us.”
The young woman notes that Arthur is proof that “organ donors do matter” and that thanks to the donation a physical piece of her father was still there for her big day.
“It is just like having my father here, and better because we get to share this story with other people, and people get to see that organ donors do matter.”
What do you think of the heartwarming story of the bride and the man who carries her father’s heart?
[Image via Shutterstock]