Bride Who Wed in Hospital So Ailing Father Could Walk Her Down Aisle Launches Tribute Foundation
Last November, Vieneese Stanton was on top of the world as her father, Preston Rolan, walked her down the aisle at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center where she wed Douglas Stanton.
Less than a month later, Rolan died from acute myeloid leukemia, leaving Vieneese devastated. Now the 28-year-old new mother is determined to preserve her father’s memory through her newly-minted Stanton Standards Foundation.
“A lot of people connected to us after they saw our wedding story go viral, and having my dad be there for us. So we started thinking, like, what if we could do the same thing for other families? UCSF hospital really put in a lot of effort to make that day happen for us… So we thought, ‘What if we formed an organization like that for people?’ ”
So, they did. They launched the organization to provide lasting memories for family members that have a loved one with a terminal illness. By May of this year, the foundation was officially established as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.
With that, the Stantons got to work. The foundation’s first helped Yvonne, who has a heart condition and has about a year left to live. Through the foundation, Vieneese and Douglas raised hundreds of dollars to treat Yvonne and her close friends and family to a nice dinner at Oakland’s Southern Cafe.
“We hosted a rose ceremony where we bought her two bouquets of roses and we had her family and friends go around and they each gave her a rose. We really believe in giving people their roses while we can still smell them,” she says.
“They shared with Yvonne their greatest memories with her. They reminisced on good times they had with her and she was able to really enjoy those moments. “That’s something that’s always done at funerals.”
The couple shared smiling photos of Yvonne Barela with her friends and family on the foundation’s website. And Vieneese says she’s eager to create lasting memories for more families in the future.
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“We really want to be a reliable resource when a family says, ‘We have a loved one who’s about to pass away. Are you able to help us?’ We want to say yes. We don’t want to tell them to wait six months,” Vieneese tells PEOPLE.
“We really want to be proactive because with terminal illness time is limited. We want to be there for the families because we believe that helps with the mourning process. I can speak for myself when I say that. I miss my dad like crazy. I think my father would be ecstatic if he were here today.”
Vieneese’s story made headlines last year, as photos of her with her ailing father made their way around the Internet. In the months after Rolan’s death, Vieneese and Douglas welcomed their first child, now 6-month-old Noelle.
“I miss my dad like crazy. Being a parent for the first time and not having my parents has been emotional at times,” she says, alluding to her late mother. “My daughter is awesome and my husband is awesome. Together we’re pushing through it.”