Skye Savren-McCormick was a very important part of Hayden Hatfield Ryals' wedding, despite meeting each other for the first time just 48 hours before the big day.
Savren-McCormick, 3, lives in Ventura, California, and right before her first birthday, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. She needed a bone marrow transplant, and it turned out Ryals, then a 22-year-old Auburn University student, was a perfect match. Donors must remain anonymous for the first year after a transplant, and Ryals and Savren-McCormick's parents started sending letters and emails back and forth in 2017.
Ryals surprised the family when she asked Savren-McCormick to be her flower girl, but it almost didn't happen; the toddler was still on oxygen two months before Ryals' June 9 wedding. In May, the family received good news: she could go off the oxygen and received medical clearance to fly to Alabama. There, Ryals and the Savren-McCormicks met face-to-face for the first time. "I feel so connected to them, they're like family now," she said. Catherine Garcia