When AJ and Michelle Manas first met in Chicago three years ago, they never expected that within months they would face a life-threatening challenge: cancer.
AJ was diagnosed with lymphoma at 29, and with Michelle by his side, he endured six grueling rounds of chemotherapy treatment. The illness brought the couple closer together, and as they began planning their wedding, they knew they wanted their big day to be about more than just them. So they turned their Santa Ynez, Calif. wedding reception into a fundraiser for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
Instead of bringing gifts, the couple asked guests to donate to the foundation, and also asked vendors to do the same, requesting a reduced fee on services so they could donate the extra money in the vendor’s name. In the end, the couple nearly doubled their $40,000 goal, raising a total of $78,984.
“It really made our [wedding] day that much more special,” Michelle, 30, who owns a luxury travel agency, told MONEY on Tuesday. While their wedding was just over a month ago, their story started gaining traction online this week.
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