Paraplegic Vet Surprises Bride, Stands Up for First Dance

Sgt. Joey Johnson built device that let him ditch wheelchair to dance with Michelle
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2014 11:18 AM CST

Michelle Johnson is a wedding planner outside of Indianapolis, but she had nothing to do with the biggest surprise at her own June wedding. Sgt. Joey Johnson—an Afghanistan war veteran who lost all feeling below his chest after a 2012 motorcycle accident just four months after he met Michelle—wanted to make their big day extra special, ABC7 reports. So he recruited pals to help him build a device that would allow him to ditch his wheelchair and stand up for their first dance as husband and wife. After they cut the cake, her mom and his mom made Michelle take a break in the bridal suite, and when she came back out, Joey was standing on the dance floor. "Everyone was crying in the room," she tells ABC. "It was so amazing to be eye to eye with him again, and such a dream come true."

After his tour in Afghanistan, Joey dealt with his PTSD by riding motorcycles for the "rush," Michelle tells ABC News. But his accident didn't tear them apart, probably because they felt they were fated to be together from the very beginning: When they first met at a country music concert, they realized they not only shared the same last name (Michelle's maiden name was also Johnson), but also the same birthday (June 29); they had their wedding this year on the day before, June 28. "He had to learn a different way of life with him and his chair: from showering, getting dressed, and trying to function every day," Michelle says. "But we are soul mates." As for his big reveal on the big day? "If you know Joey, he cannot keep a secret," Michelle says. "But he made my dreams come true and I never knew how special our day would really be." (Last month, another paralyzed groom was able to walk down the aisle.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.