The wedding day is said to be the happiest in a couple’s life. But on the morning of the ceremony, even though he is overjoyed to have found the love of his life in Katy, 24, Derick’s heart pangs when he thinks of the guest list. He cannot hide his grief at the absence of his brother, Jake. Inseparable during childhood, the two boys made the four hundred strokes in Rome, Georgia (United States) where they grew up. Derick followed his big brother everywhere, athletic, reckless and already ripe for his young age.
Barely a teenager, Jake had asked his mother to donate his organs to someone in need, if anything happened to him. And he was barely 13 years old when a car hit him and took his life. Devastated, the parents decided to honor the promise made to their son by giving his heart to a 6-year-old girl awaiting a transplant. Thirteen years later, the pain is still so strong and, on this special day, Jake is sorely missed by Derick who suffers that his brother does not witness his union.
The girl who received Jake’s heart has turned into a beautiful 19-year-old
Katy is well aware of her fiancé’s pain. Powerless to alleviate her pain, she then has a magnificent idea: to find the young girl who carries Jake’s heart, and convince her to come to their wedding, so that Derick can hear his brother’s heart beat again. Jake would certainly not be her witness, but through her, he would be present. Above all, Katy wants to get the approval of her future mother-in-law. “I know this may sound crazy to you,” I told her, “and you can tell me no, but I would really like to try to give Derick this gift. Would you agree? In tears, she told me. replied, ‘Absolutely, that’s a great idea.’ “
The girl who received Jake’s heart has obviously grown up: Gracie Wilkinson has become a beautiful young woman of 19 years old. Katy hopes she doesn’t frighten her with her request. “I sent her a long message on Facebook. Within two minutes, Gracie responded by saying, ‘Absolutely, I would love to be there. Tell me when and where I’ll be there!’ “, she confides, moved.
When Katy announced the arrival of her surprise guest, the young man burst into tears
On the wedding day, Katy breaks with tradition and asks to see her future husband before the ceremony begins. When she announces the arrival of her surprise guest, bearer of her brother’s heart, the young man bursts into tears. When Katy arrives, Gracie hands Derick a stethoscope so he can hear her brother’s heart beat again. Emotion overwhelms the audience.
In unison, tears flow freely. This September 10, 2019, in Rome, the party is intense and joyful. Fireworks don’t just burst overhead, they are in everyone’s hearts too. “Katy has given me the most beautiful gift. I love her head over heels,” said Derick, madly in love and grateful.
Derick and Katy © DOC. INSIDE EDITION