When she fell in love and got engaged, she knew she wanted to try and make this walk happen - down the aisle, towards the man she loved.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 25, 2019. It has since been updated.
A wedding is possibly one of the biggest and most important milestones in a person's life. It's about two people coming together, vowing to support each other through all the struggles, being happy with each one's successes and truly loving each other. And that was no different for this bride. But there was one thing that set her apart - she was a paraplegic who had been told by doctors that she would never walk again.
But when she got to her wedding, she managed to surprise everyone — especially her groom.
According to ABC News, Tami Martin-Dietrich was involved in a devastating car crash in 1999 that left her unable to walk. "I had no visible injuries except for a bruise on my neck," she said. "Everything else was internal. My spinal cord had been crushed." Her doctors informed her that they were hoping to get her walking within the next five years.
However, that day never arrived. And slowly, the 44-year-old [at the time of ABC publication] began gaining weight once her physical therapy sessions stopped. "I went from being very active to not active at all," Tami told ABC News. "Because I was depressed, my diet also changed."
At the time, Tami was not in a relationship. But she knew that something had to change and she was determined to do it. Being just under 40 years old during that time, she decided it was time to embark on a healthier lifestyle. "I was still single, almost in my 40s, and I always thought I'd be married with kids by the time I was in my 20s," she said. "I was motivated to find the love of my life, but I had to be happy with myself before I could be happy with anyone else."
And so with sheer perseverance and dedication, the determined Tami managed to find a way to lose 192 pounds through physical therapy. Then in 2013, she received a visit from Cupid as she met website designer Rob Dietrich. It was love at first sight and three months later, they were engaged. Now, the bride-to-be had a new goal — to walk down the aisle to her groom.
September 2014 was the wedding. "I went back to physical therapy for six weeks," she said. "It was unheard of. No one ever had somebody get that much better with just six weeks of therapy and three weeks of walking." After 15 years of paraplegia, according to USA Today, no one expected her to actually achieve that goal.
But, she said, "I wouldn't take no for an answer," reported Inside Edition. The day of the wedding came, nothing more special than the day itself, when the bride shocked everyone. Taking the help of two family friends and a gait trainer, and with the support of a walker, Tami made her way down the aisle towards the love of her life. And her groom couldn't believe his eyes. "When I saw Rob, I said, 'I’m doing it -- I’ll see you in a few feet,'" she said to ABC News. "Seeing the look on his face, I didn’t even know he got choked up. I was just focused on walking the best that I could."
As for Rob, her new husband-to-be, he said, "It was just amazing to see her do this. So, I was just so proud of her." As Tami walked, she was surrounded by applause over her triumph. And she credits her success to her husband, according to USA Today. "The last time I weighed I had lost 192 pounds," Tami said. "I had always been fit before. I said I might not walk, but there is no way I'm going to be out of shape."
She also had a message to share with those facing difficulties in life. "Sitting down was never my plan, but God had a different plan for me than I did," she said. "My message to everybody is to never give up or surrender. Don’t ever accept your situation. I have challenges of my own, that’s obvious. But if I can do this, anybody can."
By the end of the ceremony, the new wife of Rob Dietrich didn't even have to walk as he carried her out of the church in a romantic gesture. Well, five years have passed and we hope their marriage is as strong as Tami's will.