A father fighting terminal cancer had one wish he always wanted to fulfill.
Willie Shelton, a U.S. Army veteran from, Ohio is the father of seven daughters with his wife Cheryl. His wife said he always talked about achieving his one hope.
“The one constant was always, ‘I want to see my girls grow up, and I want to walk them down the aisle,'” Cheryl told Fox8.
But the family realized it was unlikely the veteran would be able to accomplish his dream normally, so they came up with a plan to make his dream a reality.
“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 told Fox8.
“What girl doesn’t want to get in a wedding dress and her hair and makeup done? So I was all in but more so for the reasoning behind it,” daughter Candice Talbot told Fox8.
Willie was kept in the dark over the secret plan. He was only asked to give away Emily Flinn, the only one of his daughters who was already married so that she could renew her vows.
“We got married at a courthouse so there wasn’t the formality to it where he could actually give me away,” Flinn told Fox8.
— fox8news (@fox8news) October 19, 2017
“He had no clue that this was going on and everybody got dressed, so I said, ‘She is going to have all the girls be the bridesmaids and everything for her;’ little did he know that they were all going to be brides,” Cheryl told Fox8.
“Actually, it was my sister, Candice, that texted me and said, ‘Hey, you need to pick out a wedding dress and give me your measurements because we are going to pick one out for you; you are going to walk down the aisle on Saturday,” daughter Jennifer Talbot told Fox8.
Just three days later, Willie donned his uniform in a backyard ceremony. Each of his daughters came out of the house, one at a time wearing their wedding gowns.
“He looked a little confused, and then it was just great to see everybody,” Flinn said.
“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.
The father-daughter ceremony was performed by Millersburg Christian Church Pastor Wes McElravy, and the girls got to experience what it would be like at their actual weddings.
Willie was then helped out of his wheelchair to stand with his daughters and fulfill his greatest wish.
“I always assumed that my dad would be there to walk me down the aisle and when the possibility was there that he wasn’t going to be able to—this was everything,” daughter Lindsey Shelton told Fox8.
Less than two weeks after the ceremony, on Monday, Oct. 16, Willie Shelton died, Fox8 reported.
But all seven will now each have something special to keep for their actual weddings—a locket in which they will have a photo of their father with them in a wedding dress, 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,” his wife said.
The family said it was only fitting for them to honor the life and memory of Willie.
“He was the happiest person, the most giving person, and this was our chance to give him something,” said Jennifer.