Sgt. Joey Johnson served in Afghanistan, and when he returned, took up riding motorcycles “for the rush” and the relief it afforded him from post-traumatic stress disorder.
But four months after he met Michelle Johnson at a country music concert in 2012, Johnson had an accident on his motorcycle that left him unable to feel anything from the chest down and a paraplegic.
The pair’s relationship was soon facing a daunting obstacle, but that didn’t matter to Michelle: “We knew we were meant to be,” she told ABC News. Along with their last name, the pair share a birthday – June 29 – something that the couple had in common with Joey’s parents Ruth and Michael, according to Michelle.
So Joey proposed to Michelle in April 2013, and the pair set a date: The day before their birthday the following year.
“Joey is still the same person, [the] funny and loving guy he was before,” Michelle said. “He had to learn a different way of life with him and his chair: from showering, getting dressed and trying to function every day. But we are soul mates.”
And while Michelle is a wedding planner by trade, Joey kept one element of their wedding shrouded in secrecy. He and his friends had rigged up a system that would allow him to stand for the couple’s first dance at their reception. “Everyone was crying in the room,” Michelle said of the big moment. “It was so amazing to be eye to eye with him again, and such a dream come true.”
Photography via LinneaLiz Photography