Stories of Secret Santas delivering to Sandy ravaged areas, or a New York City cop giving a new pair of boots to a homeless vet, etc. are on the news in abundance this time of year. In addition, non-profits, such as Operation Ward 57, Adopt A Soldier Platoon and others travel to Walter Reed Bethesda and other VA hospitals to serve meals and spread a little Christmas cheer.
One example of Christmas generosity has hit close to home.
Venus Jewelers from Somerset, New Jersey (www.facebook.com/VenusJewelers), along with Operation: Jersey Cares (www.operationjerseycares.org), New Jersey 101.5, Nanina’s in the Park, The Park Savoy, and several other vendors came together to present Operation: Tie the Knot. The contest was open to military couples from New Jersey, and the top ten entries were posted online and voted on over a period of two weeks. There were three wounded warriors among the entries.
The winners, Derek and Krystina, were awarded a full wedding package valued at $80,000.00. The contest was so well received that additional prizes were added for the other nine contestants. The second place winners, Scott and Emma, are going to receive a photography package from Marc Anthony Photography, his and hers 14k white gold matching wedding bands, courtesy of Stuller, Inc., and his and hers Victorinox Swiss Army Watches. The second place winners, Marcella and Adrian, are going to receive his and hers 14k, white gold matching wedding bands courtesy of Stuller, Inc., and his and hers Victorinox Swiss Army Watches. All other finalists are going to receive titanium his and hers Wedding Bands, courtesy of Quality Gold.
After two weeks of voting, Derek and Krystina ran away with the competition. They received over 3,100 votes. The power of social media astounds us.
Derek commented, “How do you thank someone who saved your life? Some people think someone loves them, but I have proof. I have a picture of me all hooked up to machines, and she is wearing a mask, sitting, holding my hand in the ICU.”
Venus Jewelers held a reception for Derek and Krystina to meet the vendors, at which Derek commented, “My anxiety has been really bad. So bad that I cannot stand to be in big crowds. This is the first time I’ve been in a crowd where I really wanted to be here.”
The full wedding package includes the following:
Venus Jewelers presented the couple with Movado watches and measured their fingers for his and hers palladium wedding bands. Derek was also given a gorgeous engagement ring to present to Krystina. In front of the gang gathered at Venus Jewelers, which included Krystina’s mother, Raffaela, Derek’s mother (me), and a representative from Marines Care (www.marinescare.org), Derek proposed to Krystina, and she said, “Yes!”
The owners of The Park Savoy in Florham Park, New Jersey (www.theparksavoy.com / www.facebook.com/TheParkSavoyEstate) and Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville, New Jersey (www.naninasinthepark.com / www.facebook.com/Naninasintheparknj) have generously donated a wedding reception. Originally the reception was limited to 125 guests; however, Derek and Krystina were told they were not limited. The second place winners, Scott and Emma, are also being offered a reception package. Barry and Joe told us last year they were looking for Derek and Krystina to offer them their services, but they were unable to find them. I guess fate found a way to bring them together.
However, a beautiful ring and a place to party do not complete the package.
The Flower Station (www.flowerstation.com) is donating bouquets, boutonnieres, and center pieces.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Princeton (www.fredastaireprinceton.com) has donated dance lessons for the couple. They said even though Derek has no legs, they can still teach him to dance, either in the wheelchair or on his prosthetics.
Nino Gallego Studios (www.ninogallego.com) is providing videography coverage of the special day.
Erin H. Photography (www.erinhphotography.com) is providing engagement photos as well as two photographers for the special day.
L’Fay Bridal (www.lfay.com) will provide Krystina with the gown of her dreams. Her mother and I have already started to look for our “mother-of-the” dresses! We have to find something that is not matronly, because neither of us are the “matronly” type.
A delicious cake is coming from Chamber’s Walk Café and Catering (www.chamberswalk.com).
After the contest winner was announced, Studio Verve on Location (www.vervenj.com / www.facebook.com/studiovervenj) offered their services for hair and make-up, and Stacy Evans offered her photo booth (www.jerseyphotobooth.com).
Derek and Krystina were also interviewed on Fox News on Saturday morning (video.foxnews.com/v/2050874327001) talking about the contest and their journey so far. “The last 17 months have been all about me. I know this is OUR wedding, but it’s time for the attention and focus to be on her,” Derek said with a small smile. Krystina also said she is more in love now than before. “When someone you love goes through something like this, it shows you how much more you love them,” she stated.
Considering where we were last Christmas, we have so much more to celebrate this year!
If you know of any other example of Christmas generosity, or if you know of a caregiver who could be profiled, contact me!