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3-Year-Old with Cancer Serves as Flower Girl at Wedding of Donor That Saved Her

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From grooms tearing up as they see their bride for the first time to dads sobbing during the father-daughter dance, weddings are emotional days where joy and tears often mingle together.

One Alabama wedding was especially emotional because of the special bond between the bride and her flower girl.

Skye Savren-McCormick, 3, and Hayden Hatfield Ryals, 22, actually had never met before the night of the wedding rehearsal, but that didn’t diminish the strong connection they shared.

Just before Skye’s first birthday in March 2016, she was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia which is a type of leukemia that is formed in the blood marrow. She was becoming so sick that a transplant became necessary.

Hayden donated the bone marrow for Skye’s first transplant later that year through an organization called Be the Match; Skye received her last transplant almost a year after her diagnosis.

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Skye’s mom, Talia Savren-McCormick, knows that her daughter would not still be alive if Hayden had not donated.

“(Skye) was that sick. I feel like Hayden is such a huge success in why Skye was able to beat leukemia,” Talia said.

Through Be the Match, donors and recipients have to remain anonymous for a year after the transplant, but Hayden really wanted to reach out to the family that she was able to help.

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She told her photographer that “it really helped her find purpose with her life because she was struggling with what she wanted to do and finding herself.” She sent a letter to the toddler’s parents explaining that her life was changed because of the opportunity to help their little girl.

Once they were able to know each other’s identities, they began talking over text and Facebook Messenger.

Hayden then sent a present to Skye for her third birthday. Tucked inside the card was an invitation for the resilient toddler to be the flower girl at her upcoming wedding in Alabama.

Once Skye’s doctors said it was okay for her to travel, she and her family made the trip.

Hayden and Skye met for the very first time on the night of the wedding rehearsal. “I walked up and I just dropped to my knees and all I could do was smile,” Hayden said.

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Skye Savren-McCormick, 3, and Hayden Hatfield Ryals, 26, spend some time together before Ryals' wedding.
Skye Savren-McCormick, 3, and Hayden Hatfield Ryals, 26, spend some time together before Ryals’ wedding. (Shared with permission from Mark Broadway Photography)

The wedding itself only further demonstrated how special the bond between Hayden and Skye truly was.

“One of the bridesmaids said everyone was ugly crying,” Talia said.

Hayden kisses Skye on the cheek before her wedding.
The bond between Hayden and Skye is something truly special. (Shared with permission from Mark Broadway Photography)

While no immediate plans have been made, the two families want to see each other again soon.

“They are going to be part of our lives forever,” Talia said. “She saved our daughter’s life.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
Birthplace
Tennessee
Honors/Awards
Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts
Location
Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
News, Crime, Lifestyle & Human Interest




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