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One Nebraska bride took her wedding day mishap in stride — and was rewarded six months later with the ultimate fairy tale dream wedding do-over.
Before her wedding on September 2, 2017, Christine Jo Miller was picking wildflowers outside her ceremony site in Lincoln, Nebraska. She had already arranged for professional flowers, but she wanted to include hand-picked flowers in her bouquet and the wedding trellis to add a traditional touch.
What Christine, 23, didn’t know was that the flowers — green-and-white snow-on-the-mountains — were poisonous.
After she went upstairs to wash her face before the ceremony, she immediately broke out into a rash and her eyes started watering.
“Within 15 minutes there was a rash on my face and it started to spread down my neck and arms,” Christine tells PEOPLE. “An hour later, my eyes started burning.”
Thinking it was just an allergic reaction, Christine says her aunt who is a nurse gave her steroids and Benadryl, but she didn’t feel any relief.
“They were burning pretty bad,” she says. “I kept my eyes shut while I got my hair done and even tried to calm them with cucumbers, but when I opened my eyes everything was super blurry and I couldn’t see.”
“I did my makeup myself and it kept dripping off because my eyes were watering so bad,” she adds. “I had black lines running down my face the whole time, but I didn’t care at that point because I was in so much pain.”
Christine managed to stay calm as her mother took her to a nearby urgent care, but when they discovered it was closed, her mother asked her if she wanted to cancel the ceremony.
“I said no,” Christine says. “There was no reason to freak out because it was out of my control. There were 300 people there wanting to have fun and it didn’t make it any better to soak in my own sorrows, so I tried to keep calm.”
So she went back and put on her dress and took off for the ceremony. When she reached the end of the aisle, she whispered to her fiancé, Jon, 24, that as soon as the ceremony ended, they had to go straight to the hospital.
After they said their “I dos,” the newlyweds hopped in Jon’s truck and took off for the hospital, where doctors gave Christine a shot and some eye drops. They told her she was lucky she didn’t have permanent eye damage from the poisonous plants.
Groggy from the meds and still in pain, they stopped off at a Target on their way back to the reception and Jon ran in to buy his new bride a comfy pair of pajamas to change into so she’d be more comfortable at the reception.
“He got me pajamas that said ‘Bride’ on it,” she says. “He asked if he should change too and I said no. He made me as comfortable as possible.”
After their blurry-eyed first dance and some cake-cutting, the lovebirds retired to their hotel, where Christine immediately passed out and Jon ordered a pizza and ate it in bed — not quite the romantic evening they had planned.
Enter Steve Harvey.
After hearing their story, the talk show host invited them onto his show, where they were surprised with a week-long Disney Dream Wedding re-do (airing all next week) — with Harvey as the officiant.
“I had just never heard of a wedding where the bride had to be rushed to the emergency room for having an allergic reaction to her bouquet and having so many bad things happen on their wedding day,” Harvey tells PEOPLE. “I really felt like they deserved another opportunity to celebrate and what better place to make it happen than Disney.”
On Sunday, the couple was treated to the ultimate fairy tale ceremony — complete with a new wedding dress for Christine from Demetrios Bridal in New York. She arrived in a horse-drawn carriage and walked down the aisle with clear eyes to say “I do” to her husband all over again.
“I ended up crying during the ceremony, and I don’t usually cry,” she says.
“Steve did absolutely amazing,” she says of the ceremony. “Then my entire family went to the Magic Kingdom and hung out all day.”
“Jon loved it too,” she says. “The day was so much fun.”
As for married life, the happy bride says: “It’s been amazing. We’ve loved every second of it.”
And as they plan to set off on their surprise honeymoon to Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii, the couple has even more exciting news to share: They are expecting their first baby in September.
Tune into “STEVE” all next week to follow Christine Jo and Jon’s story. The couple will be featured on every show next week beginning Monday, March 19 and culminating in their on stage wedding officiated by Steve Harvey on Friday, March 23.
But despite their chemistry on the rink, the partners of 20 years insist that’s just the performance.
After their winning routine, set to the song “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge!, Virtue and Moir talked to Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie of Today about their relationship.
“Your chemistry’s undeniable. Twitter’s exploding. They want you guys to be a couple,” Kotb told the pair before Guthrie chimed in, “We kind of do, too.”
Virtue, 28, responded, “Well, that’s such a compliment that you feel that when you watch us skate. We love performing together. We love storytelling, especially with Satine and Christian in the Moulin Rouge! program. That was really close to our hearts. We knew we wanted to skate to that music.”
“Guess mission accomplished,” Moir, 30, added. “That was the story we were telling, so I’m happy that you fell in love with that.”
“The whole world would like them to date. But they were ‘dating’ at age nine and seven, and I think Scotty broke it off. And he would say that’s 19 or 20 years of regret,” said former longtime coach Paul MacIntosh.
Social media went wild for the performance, even gaining the attention of celebrities.
After congratulating Canadian freestyle skiier Cassie Sharpe on taking home the gold in the women’s halfpipe, Vancouver native Ryan Reynolds gave a shout out to the ice dancing champions.
“And thank you @tessavirtue & @ScottMoir for agreeing to raise my children as your own,” he joked.
Others also had a hard time believing the pair weren’t in love.
“Honestly at the end of their last routine, Scott should just get down on one knee and propose to Tessa,” said one Twitter user.
Now the Olympics’ most decorated figure skaters in history with five medals, Moir says they’re not ready to say if this third appearance will be their last time at the Winter Games.
“It definitely feels like it. I guess that comes with being veterans — we know that we have to let the dust settle before we make that decision,” he said on Today. “If it is, this is a great way for us to go out. We’re so proud of ourselves. We’re so proud of our team. It feels great to have had the skates that we wanted to have here. It feels right. It feels like a good end.”
A mother who experienced two miscarriages before having her second child used the materials from her in vitro fertilization journey to create a stunning photo of the baby she fought so hard to have.
Lesleigh Cetinguc and her husband knew they wanted to have children as soon as they were married—but they soon discovered they were having problems getting pregnant. After seeking the help of a reproductive endocrinologist, the couple tried in vitro fertilization treatment when IUI (intrauterine insemination) didn’t work. A short time after starting their program, the couple’s wish came true: Lesleigh became pregnant with the couple’s first child, Lochlan.
Lesleigh says the two frozen embryos left over from their treatment represented two more chances to bring another child into the world—and when Lesleigh eventually became pregnant, they were overjoyed they would be able to give Lochlan a sibling. But their excitement soon turned to grief.
“I will never forget the moment the sonographer started searching for a baby. She was especially quiet and we were confused by the lack of action on the screen,” Lesleigh, 38, of Overland Park, Kansas, tells PEOPLE of the day she found out she lost the baby.
“During our first pregnancy, we saw baby Lochlan at the first sonogram with no issues,” she continues. “His little heartbeat flickered strongly for us to see. This time, however, we stared at an empty black circle.”
After her miscarriage, Lesleigh says she was overwhelmed by the emotional and physical toll it left on her.
“It was a peculiar state to be in,” she says. “My body was saying I’m done, but my mind and heart both carried on in a state of grief. I was in a fog. It was as if I was on my back, staring at the sky while the world passed me by.”
Just a few months later, Lesleigh became unexpectantly pregnant once again—this time, naturally—but once more, she suffered a miscarriage.
“We tried not to get too excited, but I’ll be honest, I was bursting with joy,” Lesleigh recalls of the day she saw two lines on the pregnancy test. “It was short-lived, though, and a few short weeks later it was over as well.”
Still hopeful, the couple turned to their last frozen embryo to give it a last attempt—and it worked. Lesleigh and her husband, Tolga, welcomed their baby boy, Lennon, into the family on December 14.
Lesleigh says she’ll never forget the moment she held her rainbow baby (a baby born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss) for the first time.
“I pulled Lennon close, soaking in the moment knowing it was his first moments in this world and likely my last time to experience firsthand the miracle of birth,” she says. “He was warm, slippery and making full use of his tiny lungs. I kept repeating, ‘We did it, we did it.’ ”
To pay tribute to their rainbow baby and their long IVF journey, Lesleigh collected all of the IVF materials she used over the years to create a rainbow with Lennon at the end laying on a white cloud. The picture, taken by Kelley Chance of Kelley Photo, shows the rainbow made up with every syringe, pill bottle, vial and patch that Lesleigh used to bring Lennon into the world. Tolga painstakingly painted each item in the couple’s backyard.
“It wasn’t until after our first miscarriage, that I started to really sit back and soak in what those pictures actually meant,” Lesleigh says. “To me it signifies resiliency. That one shot embodies all of the love, hope and pain that comes with IVF. It’s the making of a miracle.”
Lesleigh would like other couple’s struggling with infertility to know that, while there are many avenues of treatment to go down, they should only do what they are comfortable with and seek support when they need it. It’s an intimate journey, and a difficult one.
“Infertility is a very personal journey and you get to make the call on what you feel comfortable doing going forward,” she says. “Listen to your heart and know that you are stronger than you could ever imagine. What is someone else’s path might not be yours… Above all, always remember that you are strong, you are loved and you are not alone.”
Adorable Lucas Warren made history last week by becoming the first “Gerber Baby” with Down Syndrome in the company’s 91-year history. The 18-month-old from Georgia was chosen from a pool of 140,000 babies who entered the contest, and his parents, Jason and Cortney Warren, say they were shocked by the news.
“It’s almost like a dream,” Cortney Warren, from Dalton, Georgia, tells PEOPLE. “I think it takes a minute to really set in, like, this is real.”
Since then, the couple has received thousands of messages on social media—they say they’re still getting used to all of the attention.
“It’s very humbling,” Jason Warren says. “Who knew our child was going to touch so many people and make that many people smile. We’re loving what everybody is saying about our little boy. Lucas is loving it—he’s loving all these new people he gets to wave at.”
Gerber first launched their initiative soon after its founding in 1927, and they brought the contest online in 2010. Lucas will be featured in many of the company’s social media posts going forward, and with his selection, the family claimed a $50,000 cash prize.
Cortney says she entered Lucas into the contest on a whim at her son’s godmother’s urging. While Lucas is definitely soaking up his time in the spotlight, his parents say Lucas is not much different than any other toddler.
“He’s pretty much like every child around this age, loves learning, loves to laugh, loves to make other people laugh, always waving and smiling at everyone,” she says. “He loves it when complete strangers wave and smile back at him. It makes his day.”
The winning photo of Lucas, which features him in a polka dot bowtie and green button-up shirt, was snapped after his first Sunday at church.
“We got back home,” Courtney remembers, “and I thought he looked so adorable in the outfit and I just decided to snap a quick picture of it.”
The couple, who have been together eight years and married for five, says they quickly had to pick up on all of the intricacies that come with raising a child with disabilities.
“It’s amazing raising a child with special needs, and it might seem like it’s rough at the beginning, but it gets better,” Jason says. “We didn’t anything about how to raise a child with special needs. We had to learn everything from scratch.”
Cortney adds that one of the main things they had to learn was what Lucas’s medical needs would entail, which could include special educators, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and social workers. People with Down syndrome are at greater risk for health problems and may need surgeries to correct physical defects, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Shortly after Lucas was announced as the new Gerber Baby, many on social media began posting about their own experiences, which included their children with Down syndrome being allegedly rejected for life insurance coverage by Gerber’s insurance company, Gerber Life (also owned by Nestlé).
Many criticized the company for seemingly using Lucas for promotional purposes.
Though the couple didn’t comment on the backlash, a Nestlé spokesperson sent a response to PEOPLE.
“Gerber Life issues policies that consider each child’s unique situation. While every case is different, this includes issuing some policies that cover children with disabilities, including children with Down syndrome,” the statement reads. “As with all life insurance policies, each application is evaluated thoroughly and acceptance is made on an individual basis.”
Regardless of the controversy, Jason and Cortney hope they will be able to use the added attention around Lucas to raise awareness for the 6,000 babies born with Down syndrome every year in the United States. The couple hopes Lucas can bring hope to other families who may feel anxious or afraid when finding out their child has Down syndrome or another disability.
“There are a lot of families out there who’ve become frightened or afraid because they don’t know,” Jason says. “We’re hoping they can see Lucas and just get a glimpse of what all their child can do.”
A boy named Lucas from Dalton, Georgia became the first child with Down syndrome to be chosen as a Gerber baby, the Today show announced on Wednesday.
“Lucas’ winning smile and joyful expression won our hearts this year, and we are all thrilled to name him our 2018 Spokesbaby,” Gerber President and CEO Bill Partyka said in statement. “Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby, and this year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”
Lucas’s parents submitted his picture in a photo contest that drew more than 140,000 applicants; his selection as the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby also comes with a $50,000 prize, which they plan to put toward his education.
“As a father, seeing your child exceed in life and go to school, it’s something I’m looking forward to,” Lucas’s dad, Jason, said through tears. “I just want him to look back and say, ‘I was the Gerber baby. Look at everything I did.’ ”
A drug overdose victim strapped to a hospital bed is not a pretty sight. But there's a positive side to the hospital overdose photo Reddit user sturgio_garcia posted on Friday.
She paired it next to an image of herself months later, after she got clean. Redditors responded with a huge collective thumbs up, and the powerful side-by-side photos garnered thousands of upvotes and comments.
“Left is me in the ICU from an overdose,” sturgio_garcia wrote. “Decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and am 6 months clean and sober today.”
Within three days, the post received more than 119,000 upvotes and racked up just over 4,000 comments. Many were from other former addicts as well as medical professionals, all congratulating her and encouraging her to stay clean.
As a Paramedic it’s awesome to see someone actually get clean...wish it happened more often...keep at it,” wrote one commenter. “63 days 16 minutes 33 seconds here. Not that I’m counting. Congratulations on your half year. Stay strong. I won’t use with you today.”
When one person inquired who took the photo on the left, sturgio_garcia replied, “My dad did. When I asked him to send it to me today he said that photo makes him so sad but so happy that I’m not that person anymore. I hate what I put my family through.”
The thread also became a welcoming place where Redditors motivated other recovering addicts, encouraging them to stay strong. “I’m going to read these comments every day I feel a craving,” one respondent wrote. “I am BEAMING right now.”
Two years ago, during a desperate battle with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, 22-year-old Connie Inglis was admitted to the hospital—weighing about as much as an average 5-year-old.
“I didn’t really care about living, dying, whatever,” she told the BBC in an interview airing Monday. “I didn’t mind. I just wanted to lose all the weight. Everything. Because it had gotten to the point where being in hospital wasn’t good enough. The only thing that would’ve been good enough is if my heart stopped. That’s the only thing that would have satisfied my anorexia.”
Now, after three hospitalizations in nine years and living with anorexia for more than a decade, the U.K. resident is sharing her recovery, documenting how she went from being told she had just weeks to live to learning to love herself and her body.
“When I was 13 I really struggled talking about my problems, to the point where I didn’t say anything for six months because I didn’t want to talk about what was going on,” she said in the BBC interview. “The only thing I said was, ‘I’m fine.’“
She’s speaking up now, with before-and-after transformations, unfiltered pictures of herself, and captions expressing her feelings about mental illness and self-love. “Not everyone has to look like a Victoria’s Secret model all the time,” said Inglis, who frequently uses the hashtag #positivebeatsperfect.
Sitting at the kitchen table at a friend’s house, Cindy Redmond made the mistake of chatting on her cellphone.
Her friend’s stepfather instructed her to hang up. She did so at his second request. Still annoyed, he blasted her with an air horn.
That careless action forever changed Cindy’s life.
An air horn at close range hits 130 decibels or more — loud enough to cause auditory destruction.
Cindy, who lives in Wilmington, Delaware, felt “off” in English class the next day. Her teacher’s voice seemed painfully loud. Cindy went home sick. That was a year ago.
Her ear pain grew so intense that she was never able to return to school.
Cindy, now 14, suffers from hyperacusis, a rare hearing disorder sometimes called noise-induced pain. Deep within her ear canals, she feels a constant fiery pain and pressure.
A sound as ordinary as clinking ice cubes “feels like someone is stabbing me in my ears,” she tells PEOPLE.
Cindy is now raising funds for the nonprofit Hyperacusis Research, which supports scientific research into noise-induced pain. (The Redmonds have decided not to pursue any legal action against her friend’s family, since the stepfather has a family of six to support.)
Cindy’s page, at Cure4Cindy.org, notes that an acoustic injury can result from one loud burst of noise or from cumulative exposure over time, which includes loud music and concerts.
“People are unaware of the enormous destructive power of sound,” says Bryan Pollard, president of Hyperacusis Research.
Cindy should have started 9th grade at Brandywine High School last fall. “The school couldn’t make accommodations to soundproof her academic world,” her mother, Laurie Redmond, tells PEOPLE.
Instead, when Cindy’s pain is manageable, she goes once a week to a special school with no shrill bells, no slamming lockers and just a few other kids.
Otherwise, she stays mostly in the quiet house she shares with her mother and some pets. Even watching television — with its unpredictable volume — is tough on her ears.
“Overexposure to sound does not always lead to conventional hearing loss,” says M. Charles Liberman, an otology professor at Harvard Medical School, who heads a hearing lab at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Instead, some people suffer the opposite: Noise becomes not too soft, but painfully loud, according to Cure4Cindy.org.
Descriptions of the ear pain are remarkably consistent — a burning feeling like molten metal along with a knifelike stab.
“It’s a sensation that most of us have rarely, if ever, experienced,” Liberman said. According to the latest research, one culprit may be pain-sensing nerve fibers deep within the inner ear.
When the noise stops, the pain continues, lingering or even worsening. Confusingly, most audiology tests appear normal.
One recent day, when Cindy attempted a visit with friends, one girl squealed.
“Cindy started sobbing from the pain,” Laurie says. “Her friends insisted she was faking her injury, or her face would have turned more red.”
With no blood and no bandage, there is no sympathy either, says her mother. “I hear these stories over and over. She cries herself to sleep. My heart breaks for her.”
Cindy made the rounds of doctors, who were unhelpful. Pain medication had little effect. She tried a sound therapy that employs mild broadband noise but it made her worse and sparked tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.
With no choice, Cindy copes by using earplugs and protective earmuffs, the kind worn by airport baggage handlers.
But ear protection makes it hard to communicate and isn’t always enough to buffer the pain. Even a supermarket trip is filled with screeching checkout beeps and loudspeaker announcements that pierce right through.
Though her home is generally quiet, the threat of noise remains. Cindy’s beloved dog, Sadie, sometimes barks when excited. One misstep in the kitchen, and pots clang like cymbals.
“Having hyperacusis is like walking into a bear’s cave,” Cindy says. “You don’t know what noise is coming your way next. It’s a living nightmare.”
Cindy’s mother, laid off from a job in the mortgage field, is currently working retail, with a flexible schedule that lets her spend more time with Cindy.
“I used to worry that Cindy had the right friends and was taking the right classes to get into college,” Laurie says. “Now I worry that she has no friends. I don’t know how she’s going to finish high school. I have no idea what her future holds.”
Until Cindy’s injury, the Redmonds had never heard of hyperacusis.
“Hyperacusis needs attention,” says Laurie. “We need a cure so Cindy can live a normal teenager’s life.”
Wonder Woman might be the current reigning badass heroine. But Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games book and movie series is still inspiring and empowering girls. Thanks to some first-aid skills she learned from Katniss, one Massachusetts pre-teen has been credited with saving her friend's life.
It happened during a sleepover party. Mackenzie George and Megan Gething were outside playing in a swamp when Mackenzie slipped and cut her calf on a steel pump, resulting in a 10-inch gash. "I didn’t feel anything," Mackenzie told the Gloucester Times. "I thought I just bumped my leg, but when I pulled it up I saw the cut and I started screaming to call 911."
That's when Megan turned into a real-life Katniss, rushing over to help Mackenzie by using a pair of denim shorts as a tourniquet, which tightened the blood vessels in Mackenzie's leg to slow blood loss. Soon after, George was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she underwent surgery.
So where did Gething learn this life-saving move? She attributed her knowledge to a scene toward the end of The Hunger Games, when Katniss uses a tourniquet to stop Peeta Mellark from bleeding to death. "I figured it was a well-known method of stopping bleeding," Megan said, adding that all she wanted to do was help her injured friend.
Peeta ends up losing his leg in The Hunger Games book. Luckily Megan and Mackenzie's story has a happier ending, with doctors expecting Mackenzie to make a full recovery.
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