If you’re in need of an uplifting story this Monday, we've got something for you. It starts off sad, but stick with us for a life-affirming ending.
For the past 10 years, Jeni Stepien knew her father wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. That’s because Jeni’s father Michael was murdered while walking home from work in September 2006, according to The New York Times. Though the event was unimaginably tragic, a bit of good came out of it all when the Stepien family decided to donate Michael's organs.
That’s how Arthur Thomas, who had been diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia 16 years earlier, received a new heart. The father of four was in congestive heart failure when the lifesaving gift came to him in New Jersey from Pennsylvania. After the lifesaving transplant, Thomas reached out to the Stepien family with a thank-you note, and from there, the two families forged a meaningful relationship through regular cards, phone calls, and emails. But it wasn’t until recently that the two families met in person. Last Friday, Jeni, 33, got married — and in her father's absence, Thomas escorted her down the aisle.
Apparently, when she first became engaged last October, Jeni was understandably sad that her father wouldn't be there for this momentous occasion. But then, she had an idea. Jeni told The New York Times, "I was thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, it would be so incredible to have a physical piece of my father there.'" She reached out to Thomas, and he agreed, saying, "I thought that would be the best way for her to feel close to her dad. That’s her father’s heart beating." In this video from ABC News, you will see Jeni united with her father's heart recipient for the very first time. We dare you not to cry as she feels her father's pulse for the first time in 10 years. Grab your tissues. (The New York Times)