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Wish Upon A Wedding to throw wedding for local couple facing serious illness
11:13 PM, Jun 6, 2013
9:52 AM, Jun 8, 2013
(WXYZ) - It doesn't take much time hanging out with Konnie Tabbert to realize that she has a lovable and infectious personality.
Her smile lights up the room, especially when she's sitting next to her fiancé, John Jeffire.
The pair met 6 months ago at a pub in Frankenmuth and were instantly smitten with each other.
"From the moment I met him, I just wanted to know more about him," said Konnie, 49. "I fell in love with him."
John says he was drawn to Konnie's vivacious personality.
"When I first saw her and saw her smile and heard her laugh…there was a connection there, immediately," said John, 51.
John and Konnie are just about as giddy as any couple preparing to get married. They both laugh as they talk about the music, food and mood they want at their wedding and reception.
Sitting with them giggling, sharing their joys of life—you'd never know that one of them battles with a serious illness every day.
Konnie has Chiari malformation, a rare abnormality in the brain that causes part of the brain to extend into the spinal column. She was born with the condition, but didn't start showing symptoms until she was in her 30s. The condition wreaks havoc on her central nervous system, restricting spinal fluid flow to the brain.
She also suffers from Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, a collagen defect that results in very thin vascular system and hyper mobility.
"It's the glue that holds your body together…I don't have that," said Konnie. "My ligaments are like overstretched rubber bands."
For every weakness in her body, John's support keeps her spirit strong.
"I know what's in her heart, and I know what an incredible, what a strong person she is," said John. "My background is in wrestling and I appreciate someone who is tough and somebody who can push through adversity."
Since Konnie wrestles with her health every day, the emotional and financial stress of planning a wedding may be too much to handle, so one nonprofit is stepping in to throw her and John their dream wedding.
Wish Upon A Wedding is a national nonprofit that grants weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances.
A Michigan Chapter was recently formed and John and Konnie were selected as the organization's first couple.
"When I first found out about it, I thought, ‘what a great way to give back to an industry that has given me so much, because I've been in the industry since 1999,'" said Laura Allis, the president of the Michigan Chapter of Wish Upon A Wedding. "I just thought, ‘what a wonderful way to give back.'"
Laura heard about Konnie's situation and knew right away that she could help.
"When I first met Konnie, she was amazing…the sweetest thing," said Laura.
The chapter's team met with the couple recently to get a feel for what they envision for their special day.
"The next step is determining what type of wedding they want, where they want their wedding—which vendors will be the perfect fit for them," said Laura.
Their chapter has nearly 125 vendors who have volunteered their services for these special celebrations.
"Our hope as a board for the Michigan chapter is to do as many weddings as we can--it is our hope that we never turn away a qualified couple," said Laura. "We are prepared to do a wedding a month and we would love to be able to do that."
For Konnie and John, Wish Upon A Wedding is a dream come true.
"For Laura and her team to step in and to give me a day that I don't have to stress about, I don't have to worry about where the cost is coming from…I can concentrate on being well," said Konnie with a smile.
"I can forget this disease for a couple of hours."