Marrying the love of her life was not the only blessing Hayden Hatfield Ryals experienced on her wedding day. The beautiful bride finally met 3-year-old Skye Savren-McCormick, the little girl she asked to be her flower girl. You see, McCormick was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia at the age of 2, and thanks to Ryals’ anonymous bone marrow donation she is now a survivor. The two are forever emotionally and physically bonded—making for one incredibly touching story.
“The first day I finally interacted with Skye and her family, it felt like I had known them my whole life,” the Alabama local told Parents.com. “The surging amount of love I already had for them only reinforced how strongly and quickly we connected with each other, even though we hadn’t even met.”
Meeting the McCormicks was a long time coming for Ryals, who had decided to join the national registry of bone marrow donors after passing a Be The Match table on her way to class at Auburn University back in April of 2015. It wasn’t until April 2016 that Hatfield received a call saying she was the match to a one-year-old baby with leukemia in California.
“I was in awe and instantly, I knew this was my purpose and was ready to get the ball rolling to help this angel,” Ryals explained.
At the time of her surgery in July of 2016, Ryals knew little-to-nothing about her bone marrow recipient. A year after the surgery, the two were finally allowed to communicate through emails and letters. That’s when Ryals sent McCormick a birthday gift which included a wedding invitation that suggested McCormick be the flower girl in her wedding. Ryals couldn’t fathom her wedding being any other way.
“I wanted them to know how honored I would be and that they're that special to my heart because I’ve felt a special connection with her since the transplant date,” Ryals said.
At the time, the idea was farfetched due to McCormick’s fragile immune system—but, as the wedding date grew closer the now 3-year-old was cleared to fly by her doctors.
“I broke down and cried tears of pure joy all over again. This was HUGE to me. And when I reiterated that the flower girl offer still stood and they agreed, I was absolutely over the moon. I kept thinking, ‘Things like this just don't happen, this is really kind baffling and amazing,’” Ryals reminisced.
McCormick and Ryals finally met the Friday night before the rehearsal and their bond was immediate. McCormick knew exactly who Ryals was and referred to her as “Hay Hay”—which melted Ryals’ heart. “I could've cried an ocean of tears hearing those words in her sweet voice,” she said. The two exchanged gifts: a rehearsal dinner dress for the soon-to-be flower girl and a gold locket with McCormick’s photo inside that had the words, “This heart beats with yours,” written on it for Ryals. It was clear that this connection was a lifelong one, the 25-year-old bride even stating, “I fully consider them my family and would do anything in the world for them. It would take an eternity to fully explain how precious they are to me and how much I love them.”
Now, going through the bone marrow transplant process seems so minor to Ryals after all that has happened, “For me, this experience was such an incredible journey. It changed my life completely. When you receive that phone call and learn that YOU are a match for a human being in need and that YOU are their current hope, everything else is blocked out, and you become determined to do what is necessary to give this person and their family a fighting chance.”
Ryals understands the importance of her sacrifice, yet in her eyes having McCormick in her life is the real gift. “Skye isn't just a little angel princess, she is a WARRIOR! She's been through so much that she neither asked for nor deserved, and she has the best little attitude. Her personality is so sweet and spunky. She's a fighter and a champion,” Ryals explained. “No one has ever inspired me the way this child has. She tugs on every set of heartstrings she comes in contact with because she's just that special. She's so gentle yet she's fierce because of what she has conquered. I'm honored to be tied to her and can't wait to watch her grow. And like my treasured and beloved locket says, her heart beats with mine. I love her beyond measure.”
How could you be skeptical of happily ever after endings with a story like this one? What a beautiful series of events that have touched and inspired the hearts of so many. Never have we heard of a wedding filled with so much love.