NAMPA - Ryan Hilliard works day in and day out, telling stories as a photojournalist for KTVB. But this story is about him.
You see, Ryan is battling cancer. It's been a tough fight and it's taken a toll, and through it all, he's been an inspiration to all of us here at NewsChannel 7.
Last weekend, he married the love of his life. It was a dream wedding thanks to an incredible group of people.
"She's an amazing person, she's beautiful, we've been through a lot together, she's the woman of my dreams," Ryan said of his bride, Jakie.
"We've been together for two and a half years now and we've been through quite a bit," he added.
Ryan was diagnosed with kidney cancer almost a year ago.
"It started to spread to my lungs, my adrenal gland and a couple of other places, my spine," he explained. "At this point, it's kind of gone down a little but it's still there."
Ryan has been in and out of the hospital for treatment, and he's still undergoing chemo.
"There was a lot of tough times," he said. "She was there for me helping me get through that part when I felt sick, when I was throwing up."
It's been a rough go for both of them. But at a very special ceremony last Sunday, wedding dreams came true for this special couple.
When the bride came down the aisle, this groom was blown away.
The vows, the rings, the kiss - everything was just more meaningful knowing what this couple is going through.
"It's extra special because the whole thing was put together by a bunch of awesome people that decided to donate their time and efforts to us," Ryan said. "We wouldn't be having a wedding like this without them, that's for sure."
7's HERO: Ryan and Jakie's Dream Wedding
The amazing day came thanks to Idaho Event Professionals, which donates a wedding each year to a couple dealing with terminal illness, loss or other difficult situations.
"I think what happens a lot in life is that life just gets hard. Life throws us things that maybe don't seem fair, or don't seem right," said Kristin Cole, with Idaho Event Professionals. "And I looked at Ryan and Jakie and heard about their story and that's exactly how I feel. It doesn't seem fair, it doesn't seem right."
A group of incredible wedding vendors took care of every wedding detail, and every cost. The venue, the dress, the food, the tables and chairs, the flowers, even the cake. Everything was donated.
"This type of event is so special to all of us and when we can work together, it's just inspiring," Kristin said. "It's a chance to celebrate love, family, and precious time together.
"It's amazing how many vendors come to us and say 'the next time you have a wedding like this, let me know. I want to help,'" she added.
Ryan and Jakie say it was simply the best day ever. A day they will always remember forever.
"They are all amazing people and every part of this wedding is awesome," Ryan said. "I just want to thank everyone that's a part of it."
The couple's devotion to each other was apparent to everyone in attendance.
"You can tell they are so dedicated to each other," said Kristin. "And really through thick and thin as they have experienced this past year, they've just stood by each other and that's really inspiring."
For more information on Idaho Event Professionals, click here. Here are the vendors who donated to Ryan and Jakie's dream wedding:
- Venue: Stillwater Hollow
- DJ: Rhodes Entertainment
- Photographer: Ampersand Studios
- Coordinating: Kristin Cole with Sound Wave Events
- Videographer: Boise Wedding Productions
- Catering: 3 Girls Catering Boise and Oak Barrel of Eagle
- Cake: Stevi Raff Cake Design
- Design / Decor: Bliss Events
- Florals: McCall Weddings / K. Costa Floral
- Tuxes: LaNeige Bridal & Tuxedo - Boise
- Alterations: Stellula Alterations
- Photo Booth: Treasure Valley Photo Booth - Boise's Premier Wedding & Event Rental
- Lighting: Sound Wave Events
- Hair: Kayla Brim, Idaho Stylist
- Make Up: Makayla White at Opulence Salon Spa & Tanning
- Hotel Accommodations: The Riverside Hotel - Boise
- Guest Favors: Leslie MacDonald Charles
- Bachelor Party Golf Day: Eagle Hills Golf Course
- Guest Book Donation: Delicate Designs
- Volunteers: Fancy That Wedding & Event Design, Heather Sali Photography