For bride Hatfield Ryals, her wedding would not be complete without the presence of one person: 3-year-old Skye Savren-McCormick.
And while the two had never met before, they shared a beautiful bond that was borne out of something tragic.
Skye is a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with myelomonocytic leukemia in March 2016, shortly before her first birthday.
It’s a type of blood and bone marrow cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many abnormal blood cells.
Doctors gave the toddler only a 10 percent chance of survival.
That’s when Hayden came into Skye’s life. She donated precious bone marrow for the transplant necessary to save Skye’s life.
After the treatment, Hayden—along with her now-husband, Adrian Ryals—sought help from Be the Match, the organization that connected her and Skye for the surgery, to bring them together once again.
This time, for an entirely different reason. As soon as their families got in touch, Hayden sent Skye a gift that contained something special: an invitation asking the toddler to be a flower girl at her wedding.
After getting approval from her doctors, Skye and the Savren-McCormick family flew all the way from Ventura, California to attend Hayden’s wedding in Hartford, Alabama.
Talking about seeing Skye for the first time, Hayden said, “I walked up and I just dropped to my knees and all I could do was smile.”
Since everyone in attendance knew who Skye was and what Hayden did for her, emotions ran high throughout the entire ceremony.
“As with any wedding, you’ll see an array of moods, but when Skye was around, it was one of awe, wonderment and sweetness,” Jeannie Broadway, their photographer, said.
“When Skye walked down the aisle, everyone was in tears,” she explained.
“When she turned around and looked right at Mark’s camera, it was pure gold.”
“We hoped to capture a connection between the two, even though they had just met two days before the wedding, and I believe we did.”
“It was amazing to see them together, like a big sister-little sister relationship.”
“Knowing the process of bone marrow extraction, Hayden is very selfless,” she added.
“When she told us the story, just a week before the wedding, she was very laid back with the whole process. She said, ‘It’s no big deal, they put you to sleep and you don’t feel a thing.'”
Skye had the time of her life, as well. Her mom, Talia Savren-McCormick, said: “She was really excited to do it.”
“I put her on the ground and she took one step and then took a giant handful of flowers and tossed them on the ground.”
She added, “It was very heartwarming. We’re so grateful to Hayden, she saved Skye’s life.”