Patient Attends Daughter’s Wedding with Support from Hospital Work Family

In many ways, Memorial Medical Center was a fitting venue for Emily Kren’s wedding. It was there, 38 years ago, that her parents Jerry and Cindy Biggart first met, while both were employed in the hospital kitchen. Cindy, who still works in Food and Nutrition Services, recently marked her 40th year at Memorial. And Emily, a radiologic technologist assistant in Medical Imaging, joined the Memorial team three years ago.

Most importantly, by marrying in the Memorial Henry Bunn Chapel, Emily made sure her father would be a part of her wedding.

Wedding Plans Paused

Emily and her fiancé, Scott Kren, planned to marry in September 2017. But when her dad was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident only a few weeks before the wedding, those plans were put on hold.

In early October, Jerry Biggart had a conversation with the couple from his hospital bed in the 3B Inpatient Rehabilitation unit at Memorial. Although his injuries meant he couldn’t walk his daughter down the aisle, he insisted the couple go ahead and marry.

“He had a long talk with me and my now-husband,” Emily said. “He said, ‘I don’t want you to put your lives on hold anymore.’”

Emily and Scott decided to honor her dad’s wishes by moving forward with their wedding plans, but in a way that ensured he could attend the wedding.

“If he can’t be there next to me, like he’s supposed to be, I’m not doing it,” Emily recalls thinking. Getting married at the hospital seemed like the ideal option.

Family Comes Together

With the help of Greg Stafford, director of Pastoral Care, and Cindy’s co-workers, the family quickly planned a wedding.

On Saturday, Oct. 14, about 30 people gathered in the chapel to watch the pair say their vows. Jerry’s nurses and the rehab staff on 3B helped him dress and prepare for the wedding and ensured his comfort during the ceremony, which he watched from a wheelchair in the front row.

“Everybody at Memorial just took charge of things,” Cindy said, noting that her colleagues have rallied around the family since the accident. They’ve contributed PTO hours so she could spend more time at her husband’s bedside. Her co-worker, June Yathaputanon, is also donating proceeds from orders of Thai food she cooks to help the Biggarts with medical expenses.

Food and Nutrition Services manager Lori Freeman made the wedding cake, while other members of the department helped serve at a small reception in the hospital courtyard.

When his motorcycle accident occurred, Jerry Biggart was riding with the local chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), an international organization that works to support and empower children who have been abused. His BACA brethren have also rallied around the family as he recovers and were on hand to celebrate Emily’s wedding. One member of the group even officiated the ceremony.

Moving Ahead Together

Jerry said he’s proud of Emily and the couple’s other daughter, Sarah. Emily “was just a beautiful bride,” he said. “I was so honored to be there.”

Cindy said she’s humbled by how their Memorial family came together to help them celebrate. “I don’t think this could’ve happened at any other place,” she said. “I can’t ask for a better group of people to work with.”

Meanwhile, Jerry’s condition continues to improve. With the help of rehabilitation, he’s making steady progress as feeling gradually returns to his arms and legs. Cindy sits at his bedside after her workday ends in the afternoon, and Emily, who works nights, can often be found there as well. She’s hopeful someday soon she can hold a belated wedding reception—one where she can dance with her dad.

“Where I had my wedding didn’t matter,” she said. “All that mattered was that everyone was here.”