MILLERSBURG, Ohio (WSVN) — U.S. Army veteran Willie Shelton was dying of terminal cancer. As he fought the disease, his wife said he had just one wish.
“The one constant was always, ‘I want to see my girls grow up, and I want to walk them down the aisle,'” Cheryl Shelton told Fox 8.
The couple had seven daughters, and knew it was unlikely he’d see the day all of them got married. So the family came up with a plan to make his dream a reality.
With last-minute help from Shelton’s hospice, David’s Bridal, a local photographer and hair studio, their plan quickly came together to grant him his dying wish.
“We had this idea we put together in three days. We got all the wedding gowns for the girls and hospice helped us out a great deal with some of the planning,” Cheryl said.
Most of the plan was kept a secret from Willie, who thought he was only going to be walking his one daughter, Emily Flinn, down the aisle. Emily was the only one of his daughters who was already married, so they planned on renewing their vows with him present.
“We got maried at a courthouse so there wasn’t the formality to it where he could actually give me away,” she said.
As everyone got ready for the big day, Willie believed the rest of his daughters were dressing up to be bridesmaids.
“Little did he know that they were all going to be brides,” Cheryl said.
Willie wore his dress uniform for the backyard ceremony. As each daughter came out of the house one-by-one in wedding gowns, Flinn said he was taken aback at first.
“He looked a little confused, and then it was just great to see everybody,” she told Fox 8.
Willie managed to get out of his wheelchair with some help so he could stand with his daughters and experience the moment.
“This was very touching for him and it was a dream that we could fulfill to the best or the closest we could possibly do,” his wife said.
Less than two weeks after the ceremony, Willie passed away.
When his daughters do get married, each one will have a way to keep him close during their wedding ceremonies.
According to Fox 8, each daughter will have a locket with their father’s photo inside, and the words “a father’s love never ends” engraved on the back.
“Even though part of the dream was fulfilled last week, when they get married, the rest of it will be because he will still be with them,” Cheryl said.
Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.