Since announcing news of their unconventional wedding plans, Chicago-area natives Tiffany Au and Caleb Remington say the support for their big day has been incredible.
"It's been such a whirlwind ever since we launched the website and just let the public know what we are actually doing," Au said.
The couple, who are facing heartbreaking odds as they enter married life, have decided to transform their wedding day into a massive fundraiser aiming to raise $500,000 for charity.
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It's a remarkable goal, but, like their relationship, they're up for the challenge.
Remington has cystic fibrosis, a genetic and life-threatening disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.
“The life expectancy was only 19 years old [when I was diagnosed],” he told NBC 5.
Though Remington now has a life expectancy of 37, according to the medical encyclopedia, a dark cloud inevitably hangs over his relationship with his soon-to-be wife.
How long will they have together? Neither knows.
"The first day that we hung out we are not talking about, 'What's your favorite color?' He said, 'What are your thoughts on death and life," Au said.
Since his first health scare at the age of 19, Remington has already returned to the hospital 10 times.
"Each time it gets a little more severe and a little harder to bounce back from," he said.
Just as their relationship has been unconventional from the start, they plan on making the start of their marriage an untraditional, but grand one.
There will be no wedding gifts, no money given to them as they start the next chapter of their life together– there will only be fundraising for charity.
They’re calling it the Greatest Wedding Ever Donated, or the GWED, planning to turn their wedding day into a fundraising gala and benefit concert that aims to raise $500,000 to be split evenly between five organizations.
Each organization serves a cause close to the couple’s hearts: mental health, rare disease, research, education and low-income families.
Rare disease and research apply largely to Remington’s disease, and mental health, education and low-income families play a large role for Au - a sexual assault survivor and educator who grew up in a low-income family.
“I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the community that has helped raised so much funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis and research,” Remington said.
“With our whole relationship community has been a center of focus,” Au said. “Community, for me, and community service is what saved my life.”
Their wedding day, which will be in California, will feature a charity gala that will include a silent auction, a live auction and even a benefit concert that will be open to the general public - or what they have called "wedding crashers."
"We're overall excited to do something different and break the mold of traditional weddings," Au said.
Since first announcing their plans in December, the couple said the response to their goal has been shocking.
"It's been really awesome to see all the different individuals and companies that have reached out to us and asked how they can help," Au said.
Remington and Au have already spent $30,000 on the charitable festivities to allow for all money raised to go to the charities themselves. But they can't do it alone.
"Every dollar counts," Au said.
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