Strangers help save wedding affected by flu

May 2, 2009 (CHICAGO) "She would be devastated if even one of got sick. Even though it was heartbreaking for her, we were going to work it out one way or another," said Aileen Santiago, friend of the bride.

One week ago, as the H1N1 flu virus spread through Mexico and the U.S. government warned Americans against non-essential travel, DeAwna McGinley and Eric Cherney were faced with the toughest decision of their relationship. Do they cancel their wedding planned for this weekend in Puerto Vallarta?

"DeAwna and Eric made a choice not to harm family and friends, that just says so much about them as well, what kind of people they are," said Dawn McGinley, mother of the bride.

This evening, DeAwna's dad walked her down the aisle on the top deck of the Anita Dee II docked at Navy Pier. The George Jewell Catering firm made all of the arrangements. A firefighter even donated his timeshare in Jamaica for the honeymoon. All were strangers, who heard of Eric and DeAwna's difficult decision and decided to help.

"It fills me with so much hope to see people are such humanitarians and so wonderfully giving and kind and willing to help someone in need," said DeAwna Cherney.

"It turned out way better than we could have imagined, ever. We had no concept of what it would and now it's everything we could have hoped for," said Eric Cherney.

The wedding planner in Mexico has so far refused to refund any of DeAwna and Eric's money. They're out thousands of dollars. But after Saturday night, it doesn't seem to matter as much.

"It softens your heart about anything you were upset about when you realize people have been so selfless in wanting to make your day as special as you hoped it would be," said DeAwna Cherney.

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