SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — Mr. and Mrs. Cooper have endured more than most newlyweds. Military service, five children, blindness, and now a second brain tumor. Their love has withstood the test of time, and from this couple, we can all learn something about unconditional love, community, and living a full life.
Jennifer Cooper was diagnosed with her first brain tumor years ago.
"I was in the service, and I went off base and got exposed unknowingly to depleted uranium, and made me very sick," Jennifer said. "Tumors didn't come out till years later."
Jennifer said the first tumor she got was nine centimeters. Doctors were able to remove it. However, she faced a major stroke during that surgery. She said she is half blind and the left side of her body doesn't function well.
"The first tumor was bad enough, and it did a lot of damage to my brain. So, when we got news of the second tumor growth, that is on another part of my brain, we knew we had to act quickly," Jennifer said.
Devin said it's been a long few years battling the tumors.
"We had two kids back to back and found out my wife was diagnosed with another brain tumor," Devin said. "She has to do another surgery in September."
Unlike the last surgery, this one is more dangerous. Doctors have not given this couple much hope.
"It's in a bad spot. The tumor is in a bad spot, and they're really not giving her a great prognosis," said Willie Franklin with The Lost Vets Rescue.
Somewhere along the way, Jennifer and Devin mentioned to Willie that they wanted to tie the knot before the surgery in September. Also, Jennifer wanted to have a wedding while she could still partially see.
"We've been trying to plan this and never got around to it," Jennifer said. She said it was hard balancing getting married and taking care of five children, on top of being sick.
Willie has always been an advocate for veterans. The Lost Vets Rescue helps re-house homeless veterans. Normally, Willie is out in the forests looking for veterans who have set up camps. But, today he is out in the woods planning a wedding for a veteran with a different need.
"We heard her story and we just were gonna help," Willie said. "The next day, I got contacted by an event planner that wanted to know if I had a veteran that would like to enter a contest to be donated a complete wedding."
Willie was shocked. It was meant to be, something he explained as an act of God.
"It just warms my heart that or our organization can be a part of this thing. I'm always dealing with homeless veterans and PTSD, people who are in dire need of help, immediate help. And this is kind of refreshing to me to be able to do something like this," Willie said.
The event planner who reached out about the contest for a free wedding was Kristin Vittorini with Blushing Gypsy Events. She was looking for a wedding party to test out a brand-new wedding venue in the mountains, Canopy Ridge.
"It just kind of happened with me reaching out to some of my amazing vendor friends. And they were all about it. So we just have been working on this for about two months," Kristin said.
Two months isn't normally enough time to plan a wedding. However, thanks to community partners, most parts of the wedding were gifted to the couple for free.
Partners gifted the clothes, lodging, food, dessert, and entertainment. The total cost of the wedding would have been about $28,000.
"The community has really come together for this. I can't think of a more deserving couple for this. And we're just excited to be part of it," Kristin said.
Jennifer and Devin were ecstatic.
"This is a blessing from God. And we just give Him all the glory for it," Jennifer said.
Now, they can stand united against the tumor and united in marriage.
"He's my rock. You know, he's very stoic. Just a great good godly man and God-fearing man," Jennifer said. "
"She's loyal, she's really my everything. My rock," Devin said. "She deserves the world and I'm glad she chose me."