Hurricane Ian victim gets wedding help from stranger

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

The darkness of Hurricane Ian still lingers over all of our heads as we rebuild and search for answers, but like all things, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Two soulmates planning their future needed to pick up the pieces first, and they did that with the help of the community. Now, as they prepare to say “I do,” a stranger helped give them the wedding of their dreams.

There have been a lot of floods in Collier County School teacher Mary Farr’s life. The first was when Hurricane Ian hit.

“All of a sudden saw that there was no grass that wasn’t covered with water, and it was just rising and rising,” Mary said.

Mary, her fiancé Milton, and her father rushed to their neighbor’s house, not knowing that would be their home for the next three months.

Ian took everything: their cars, furniture, photos and a lifetime of memories.

In the days that followed, Mary said she was flooded in a much different way.

“There was a list of people that were bringing food over, people doing my laundry, people taking stuff out of my house, doing demo,” Mary said.

Then, 10 days after Ian, Milton proposed.

But as the couple looked around at the destruction, they realized their dream wedding would have to wait, but one of Mary’s friends couldn’t have that. She took matters into her own hands and asked around, eventually finding Tami Henion, the Hodges Life Celebrations Center event manager.

“I was perusing Facebook, and I saw her plea for anybody who could help her friend with a backyard wedding who was a teacher, which is my background, and I thought, she’s from the area. We have just opened up this new event center,” Henion said.

Henion said it was a no-brainer, so she offered to do Mary’s wedding for free.

“It’s kind of like a lottery ticket without buying a ticket. It’s just amazing. It’s just truly as is like a dream,” Mary said.

Local vendors began signing up left and right, donating the dress, photographers, caterers, wedding planners, you name it.

Come November, these Hurricane Ian survivors will finally be able to say “I do” in front of all those who flooded her with hope.

“The amount of help and love that we received, we wanted to share on our wedding day to say thank you for helping us get to here,” Mary said.

Tami said there is still a lot to do before the big day. They still need to raise around $6,000 to cover the bar and pay for wait staff.

If you’re interested in helping out, you can contact the Hodges Life Celebrations Center.

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