MARIETTA, Ga. – One woman’s dream of walking down the aisle and dancing on her wedding day became a nearly impossible feat when she was paralyzed in a tragic accident. But after a tremendous amount of hard work and determination, she stunned her family and friends by doing just that.
In July 2008, Jaquie Farmer was 17 when she dove into her friend’s pool and broke her neck.
“I remember floating face down, unable to move and thinking I was going to drown. I could hear the girls laughing thinking I was just joking or something. When I was finally pulled out of the pool and knew my mom was being called to come get me, my body blacked out,” Jaquie told FOX59.
Jaquie doesn’t ever remember the doctors explicitly telling her she was paralyzed, but she says she just knew. She could feel all of her limbs, but she couldn’t move them.
“I remember looking over at my mom saying, ‘Am I going to be in a wheelchair forever?’ And holding back tears she said, ‘If God wants you to walk, you'll walk,’” said Jaquie.
At that moment, Jaquie says her faith kicked in, and she was determined to be “normal” again.
Her first glimmer of progress came when she was able to move her big toe. She says her surgeon was absolutely shocked.
Jaquie spent hundreds of hours in physical therapy and on her own in the gym, working to regain the ability to stand. She says she made the most progress when she moved out of her mother’s house and became self-sufficient.
In July 2013, nearly five years after her accident, Jaquie met her future husband, Andy Goncher, on a dating app called Let's Date.
Andy proposed to Jaquie in August 2015, and at that moment she made it her goal to walk down the aisle and dance at her wedding. “I wanted to build up enough endurance so that I could enjoy our wedding day wheelchair-free,” said Jaquie.
And on May 22, 2016, Jaquie stunned her family and friends at her wedding by doing just that. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Jaquie cast aside her wheelchair and walked down the aisle.
Jaquie and Andy’s wedding photographers captured the guests’ emotional reactions in their beautiful pictures.
Jaquie remained standing most of the day, and she was able to dance at the reception.
“Seeing the reactions now from the photos Halie and Alec captured just bring me to tears every time. It's so easy to forget how miraculous it is that I can walk now since it's the journey I've been going through for 8 years. But when people react with such emotion and awe, it reminds me of just how blessed I am,” said Jaquie.
Jaquie’s ability to stand and walk continues to improve daily, and she’s been working to use her cane more than her wheelchair.
In addition to growing stronger physically, Jaquie has also grown stronger spiritually and emotionally since becoming Mrs. Goncher. “Married life is definitely a wonderful but challenging change. It's definitely not all rainbows and butterflies and is an act of selflessness. I'm so thankful that I found someone who is willing to grow and learn with me forever,” said Jaquie.