Oregon Couple Planning Dream Wedding Four Years After a Drunk Driver Delayed Their Plans
Last summer, McKenzie Yeoman set up a fundraising site so her sister, Kelcie, could have her dream Disney wedding to Larry Ragsdale, her high school sweetheart.
Readers were so touched by the Oregon couple’s love story – their wedding plans were put on indefinite hold in March 2010 after a drunk driver plowed into Ragsdale’s car as he was on his way to propose – she met her goal (to raise $20,000) in just 11 days.
It turns out getting the full Disney wedding experience costs more than that, so a group of former Disney brides who befriended Kelcie after her story went viral has set up another fundraiser to make sure she gets the full Cinderella experience.
“Recently, Kelcie posted on the group asking which she should choose between – the castle photography package or Cinderella’s crystal coach,” Christie McLarty, 27, of College Station, Texas, tells PEOPLE. “Of course, photography is essential, but a few of us Disney brides decided that they absolutely deserved to have Cinderella’s crystal coach as well.”
“Kelcie and Larry have been through so much,” she continues. “I would love nothing more than for Larry to feel like her Prince Charming as they ride away in the coach after the wedding.”
The bride-to-be was beyond thrilled.
“They’re so amazing,” Yeoman, 24, of Selma, Oregon, tells PEOPLE. “They’re like a family and they just bring you in. I go to them for advice all the time.”
The past year has been a whirlwind for Yeoman – starting with a surprise proposal last August, a video that immediately went viral and had a resurgence around Valentine’s Day.
Ragsdale, once a star athlete who ran track, played football and made Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd list, suffered brain damage in the wreck and has spent much of the last four years in a rehabilitation facility.
But by last August he was well enough to propose at the same rehabilitation facility where Yeoman got a job so she could be by his side. They have set a September wedding date (though Disney told them not to reveal the exact date) with about 100 guests.
Yeoman says she broke down in tears when she found out her dream wedding was becoming a reality, thanks to her sister.
“It’s really been amazing – the outpouring of love from people,” she says. “People say, ‘You guys deserve this.’ I know Larry deserves the world and I work every day to give him the best world.”
Ragsdale moved out of the rehabilitation facility in January and in with his fiancée, who now works as his full-time caretaker.
“He’s doing so well,” she says. “Since he’s been home I just feel like he’s so happy. Before I got to see him every day – now it’s all the time. It makes me happy. He’s come a long way.”
He still uses a wheelchair to get around, but is slowing learning to walk again, she says. His limitations come from his brain injury – he’s not partially paralyzed, as has been reported – she says.
“He has balance issues,” she says. “He can take some steps with a handrail and some assistance. We just keep seeing progress. So it’s great.”
Ragsdale goes to speech, occupational and physical therapy, Yeoman says. His speech is a little more challenging because of his brain injury, but it’s improving as well, especially since he came home, she says.
“He randomly will come up with a new phrase and it’s not something I’ll say,” she says. “He recently started saying, ‘I’m the man’ all the time and it cracks everyone up.”
While the couple like to share memories of their past together – before their lives changed forever – the accident itself is not something they dwell on, she says.
“We try not to think about all we lost because that makes us both really sad,” she says. “But it feels good to finally continue on with the plans we had after waiting for so long for them to happen.”