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This Paralyzed Woman Taught Herself To Walk Down The Aisle For Her Wedding

Despite a 2008 swimming accident, Jaquie Goncher stood and walked on her wedding day.

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"I went to a friend's house after work and dove into her pool. I broke my neck and it instantly paralyzed me from the neck down," Jaquie told BuzzFeed of her accident.

"I sustained a spinal cord injury from my C5 vertebrae being completely shattered," she said. "I also fractured C1 and C2. After my surgery, the surgeon told my mother and I that I would never walk again."

A little over a month later, though, she flicked her right big toe for the first time, which she said left her surgeon in "complete shock."

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Grueling physical therapy, in addition to workouts at the gym, helped Jaquie as she built up her strength.

"I was an athlete in high school so working out again and not being able to do the workouts I used to was very emotionally hard for me," she said. "I walked on the treadmill at the slowest pace holding onto the sides and focused on not passing out. I would pull myself with my legs in my wheelchair around the gym."

She also did planks, lifted weights, used various abdominal machines, stood on a bosu ball, and used most of the leg machines.

Jaquie's efforts paid off. She was able to support herself upright for her entire 4½-hour wedding, from ceremony to reception.

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"I was completely shocked that I was standing that long," she said. "I think I was just too happy to notice if it was difficult or not. All I can remember is having the time of my life!"

Jaquie's husband, Andy, knew she'd be walking down the aisle — he'd helped her through the process — but it was a complete surprise to the rest of her guests.

Still, Andy was blown away that his bride was able to stand for the duration of their entire wedding.

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"Walking down the aisle felt like a dream. I felt accomplished and just so grateful and thankful," she said, adding, "I honestly didn't see Andy because I was too nervous and excited so I stared at the ground almost the entire time. Whoops."

As a wedding present, Jaquie's mother hired a live event artist, Maggie Smith Kühn, to paint the unforgettable scene.

The "overwhelmingly perfect" day was everything Jaquie dreamed of, due in large part to her enormous accomplishment.

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"I wanted to enjoy my wedding without the wheelchair," she said. "Walking down the aisle was awesome but actually standing and dancing for my entire wedding is what really mattered to me."

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