At the start of 2017, special education teacher Alyssa Kamm was on top of the world: She was engaged to her partner of six years, Mike Kamm, they had just bought a house together in Rochester, New York, and they were planning their wedding for 2018. But then her father was diagnosed with cancer and her whole world turned upside down.
On January 13, Kamm's father, 55-year-old Karl Jones, was told he had multiple myeloma, a rare type of plasma-cell cancer that can weaken the bones. He began chemotherapy treatments almost immediately, but because his cancer was advanced, there was no telling whether or not he'd be healthy enough to attend - much less be a part of - his daughter's wedding. Kamm was heartbroken.
"I'm very much a daddy's girl," Kamm told TODAY. "I always have been. To think the one person I look up to as my hero may not be able to walk down the aisle was devastating."
Kamm's fiancé's sisters, however, weren't about to let Jones miss out on his daughter's wedding - they immediately jumped into action, urging the couple to move up their wedding date and offering to pay for the ceremony.
In an effort to start the planning process, one of Mike's sisters took to a Facebook page for local wedding vendors, sharing the couple's story and asking for advice on finding reasonably priced venues at the last minute. That's when Bethany Colburn entered the picture.
A local wedding photographer, Colburn saw the Facebook post and immediately began dreaming up ways that she could help the couple. She reached out to a wedding-DJ friend, and the two started rounding up every local wedding contact they had who might be willing to help with the ceremony. Before they knew it, more than a dozen strangers were offering to help with the venue, flowers, music, and other services.
With the help of the local service providers, the wedding came together at lighting speed - and just three weeks after Jones' cancer diagnosis, Alyssa and Mike got married.
By the time of the February 4 wedding, Jones had gone through two rounds of chemo and was using a walker. The family wasn't sure if he would be able to walk his daughter all the way down the aisle, so they had planned for Kamm's brother to walk her halfway before handing her off to Jones. But when the time came, Jones knew he had to do it himself.
"When Alyssa came out, I was like, 'I'm going to walk her down,'" he told TODAY. "I said, 'Let's just suck it up and go for it.' Luckily, I had enough strength to make it all the way down. And that made her day, too."
In the end, not only was the early ceremony a success, but it also majorly boosted Jones' spirits.
"It all came about so fast," he told TODAY. "It was like one minute, I'm diagnosed with this, and oh my God, I'm thinking life's over. And the next thing you know, they're getting married. And that's like, wow, there's hope."