Rockettes’ Pick for Dancer of the Week: Quadriplegic Man and His Wife

Who: Lauren and Joel Jackson from Palm Coast, Fla.

Their dance:

Why we chose them: Break out the tissues—this video is sure to tug at your heartstrings. Lauren and Joel Jackson, both 26, tied the knot in September 2013 and never had the chance to share their first dance as husband and wife—until this month.

In 2009, Joel was involved in a car accident and was paralyzed from the neck down; he was “internally decapitated” and broke his jaw, losing his ability to speak. Knowing each other since childhood (and they dated in high school!), the couple rekindled their friendship after the accident and had an immediate spark. In late 2012, Lauren and Joel began dating, and a few months later, Joel proposed via a video that his friends helped him produce. During their wedding vows, Joel mouthed “I do,” and for their first dance to Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” Lauren sat on his lap.

“But I told him, ‘When you can talk, I want to renew our vows. And when you can walk, I want you to dance with me,'” Lauren told Joel, according to NBC News.

And that wish finally came true.

Joel’s physical therapists, who are helping him regain strength and body movement, put him in a device that permitted him to stand upright while allowing his legs to support a small amount of his weight. At that moment, Lauren and Joel were able to share their first dance all over again, this time on their feet!

“It is the little triumphs that are giant steps for us [Joel and Lauren]. And for the little things, I am grateful.”

Fun fact: Joel took up painting by holding the brushes in his mouth. He sells his beautiful works of art on Etsy in hope to raise money.

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