Couple Turns Wedding into Cancer Fundrasier


Six months before Rockford native A.J. Manas’ wedding day, he got life changing news: he was diagnosed with cancer.

He called his fiancee Michelle to give her the news. “He called me and I knew something was wrong from just the urgency he had in his voice,” she says.

Michelle put her life in California on hold and moved to Illinois to help A.J. through his treatment.

“I just wanted to stay positive and I wasn’t in control. I needed to kind of just relinquish that control. And kind of pray that everything was going to work out.” says A.J.

And it did. Michelle saw A.J. through six rounds of chemotherapy. Soon after, they began planning their wedding, asking vendors to donate services and guests to give to the Lymphoma Research Foundation instead of gifts. 

“On the wedding day, Michael announced that we had raised $75,000, and we just about fell out of our chairs. It was such an incredible day, but that was truly the cherry on top: that we were able to do that and more then double our goal for the fundraising.” says Michelle.

The money will help further the goals of the foundation. Michael Werner, chairman of the Lymphoma Research Foundation, says, “Today, the challenge is funding enough research so we can have better treatments that are less toxic and help more people have the happy ending that I’ve had so far.”

A.J. and Michelle had a second reception in Rockford, for the groom’s local family and friends. Again, guests were asked to give to the Lymphoma Research Foundation instead of gifts and they now have raised more than $90,000 for cancer research.

“It’s extremely gratifying, and I mean, we’re very happy with how things have worked out.”

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