By Brian Park
For one Corona family facing an uncertain future, San Juan Capistrano will forever serve as a reminder of the best of times, when their love and commitment to each other triumphed over sickness.
On Sunday, September 23, Kelly and Veronica Haro were married in a formal wedding ceremony at Serra Plaza, in front of their six children and 55 other guests. The wedding was completely planned and funded by Wish Upon a Wedding, a nonprofit organization that helps couples facing life-altering circumstances.
In May, Kelly visited the hospital complaining of a weeklong headache that would not dissipate. Doctors conducted a series of tests and found a mass in Kelly’s brain that was eventually diagnosed as glioblastoma, an especially aggressive form of cancer.
Kelly and Veronica were married in an Orange County courthouse that month, but planning for an actual wedding proved difficult given Kelly’s condition. Doctors told Kelly that with treatment, his life expectancy would be around 18 months. However, Kelly’s situation is exacerbated by a rare genetic mutation that runs in his family, Li-Fraumemi syndrome, which worsens with radiation and chemotherapy. Without treatment, doctors have given Kelly only three to six months to live.
“He’s been really positive throughout this whole thing,” Veronica said. “I’ve been supporting him through the whole thing, and I don’t plan on going away.”
Veronica heard about Wish Upon a Wedding from an aunt and after researching the organization, she submitted an application detailing her family’s situation. Although the two were legally married, Veronica’s submission was inspired by her children—both she and Kelly have two children from previous relationships and another two together.
“We got married in the courthouse, not thinking that we were ever going to have a real, true ceremony,” Veronica said. “The kids, they didn’t get to celebrate, but they kept asking us about really getting married.”
Wish Upon a Wedding heard Veronica’s case and immediately stepped in. While the family was in Germany for more than five weeks for Kelly to receive a holistic brand of treatment, the organization planned the entire wedding, from wedding attire, flowers, food, entertainment and the venue.
“Our goal is to make our clients guests at their own wedding,” said Stacey Gitten, public relations chair for the organization.
When Veronica arrived in San Juan Capistrano on Sunday, it was the first time she saw all the work that went into her own wedding.
“There are no words to describe it. It was unbelievable. I didn’t expect an entire wedding like that,” Veronica said. “I was never one of those girls to dream about my wedding, but even if I did, it never would’ve compared to the outcome.”
The children also enjoyed the wedding, especially a photo booth that was set up for the reception, Veronica said. “They loved it. They had a blast.”
As for the future, Kelly and Veronica say they will keep fighting the cancer despite the grim prognosis. According to Kelly, it’s his faith that keeps him going. For Veronica, it’s their children who keeps her strong and the wedding served as definitive proof of their parents’ love.
“My main goal was just to show our kids that we are married because they’d been asking—to give them something in their hearts and in their minds to grow with,” Veronica said.
To learn more about the Haros and support them, a website has been set up at caringbridge.org/visit/kellyharo. To learn more about Wish Upon a Wedding, visit wishuponawedding.org.