Wedding bells are in the air for St. Johns seniors Michelle Boog and Pete Maniez after they were announced the winners of the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort Dream Wedding Contest on Wednesday.
It’s the latest step in a remarkable journey for the couple, who were featured in the Aug. 22 edition of Central Michigan Life.
Since Boog was diagnosed with brain cancer in April 2011, the couple has been through a whirlwind of hardships, struggles and challenges that culminated into the opportunity of a lifetime.
“When we were in the hospital and things were looking grim for Michelle, I was upset because of the life moments that we wouldn’t get to experience,” Maniez said. “We wouldn’t have been able to experience our wedding day or have had the ability to raise a family together.”
According to doctors, Michelle was not expected to survive the growth in her brain.
Miraculously, she made it through 48 hours of a medically induced coma in the hospital and has since made a healthy recovery.
In the wake of her recovery, the couple entered into the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort Dream Wedding Contest to enormous success and support, winning more than 25,000 votes online.
“It’s almost an indication of the suffering she had,” Greg Boog, Michelle’s father, said. “Of all the hard work that she had to do to come back from it.”
The support the couple received was staggering. Votes rolled in from thousands of community members who had been made aware of Boog’s story through a web page set up by Maniez shortly after the diagnosis.
After winning the contest, the couple have begun the process of planning their dream wedding, complete with salon and spa services, a three-night stay in the resort’s presidential or governor’s suites and catering for 600 guests.
While no concrete plans have been made, Boog has set a tentative wedding date of August 2015 and said she’s excited about the prospect of such a generous guest list.
“I would have never imagined having a wedding with 600 guests before this contest,” Boog said. “Pete and I both have large families and when we sat down to plan our guest list, family alone was nearly 300.”
Following the nuptials, the two seniors plan to settle and find work in the mid-Michigan area.
To Maniez, the greatest part of the experience is not the glamorous dream wedding but the chance of fulfilling his dream life with the woman he loves.
“I don’t consider our upcoming wedding a wedding at all,” he said. ”It is really a celebration of what we have been through and getting everyone from our support group together in one place to kick off our marriage.”