Massey Cancer Center helps patient be father of the bride at bedside ceremony

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Martin Lenhardt, Ph.D., was relegated to bed on Oct. 10, with little to no energy or chance of leaving the hospital in the near future, even for a day. Still, at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center, as he lay in bed surrounded by family and friends, he was allowed to play his rightful part as the proud father of the bride to his youngest daughter Megan Kinnison.

Megan and Adrian Kinnison
Megan and Adrian Kinnison

Because Lenhardt could not travel to offer the traditional paternal blessing of the marriage, hospital staff helped bring the wedding to him. In the hospital’s critical care unit, Kinnison, one of 14 children, was married at her father’s bedside. That day’s chapel was Critical Care 2 room 156.

While hospitalized, Lenhardt’s medical team comprised nursing, physical therapy and occupational therapy staff. Lenhardt is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the VCU School of Engineering. He has been at VCU for nearly 45 years.

Martin Lenhardt, Ph.D.
Martin Lenhardt, Ph.D.

Randeisha Seward, a unit secretary in the acute care oncology in-patient unit, said it was a joy to help coordinate the ceremony. Seward took it upon herself to serve as an unofficial greeter for wedding guests and those coming to visit. She also created the wedding day décor, providing pictures of doves, wedding bells and white ribbons that she attached to Lenhardt’s door.

“I could relate to their situation. It put me in the mind of my family because my father got sick once and I have a large family,” she said. “I think it was exceptional that Megan would make sure her father could experience her wedding.”

An empty hospital room next to Lenhardt’s served as the bridal party’s changing room. Fifteen guests witnessed the ceremony, including the mother and grandparents of the groom, Adrian Kinnison. Event planning included Megan Kinnison and her family speaking with social workers and taking steps to ensure the wedding would occur without other patients being disturbed.

“Everyone at the hospital was so nice and extremely helpful. The following week when I went to visit my father, I had countless doctors, nurses and even a patient come up to me to congratulate me,” she said. “If my father wasn’t going to be able to come to our wedding, then we were going to bring the wedding to him.

“It never crossed my mind that I would be making any type of sacrifice having my wedding in the hospital. To me, it is not about where an event takes place, but about the memories created being with the people important to me.”

Lenhardt said the moment was a cherished one for him, and he feels fortunate to have experienced it.

“No greater love than to sacrifice your desires for your father’s joy,” Lenhardt said. “While I wished Megan had a church wedding of her dreams, sharing it was priceless to me at my beloved VCU Medical Center.”

To me, it is not about where an event takes place, but about the memories created being with the people important to me.