At just 5 years old, Sophia Elyssa Chiappalone has seen more than her fair share of the inside of a hospital. She has had 26 operations — three of which were open-heart surgeries. Born with only half of a heart, Sophia's doctors did not expect her to live past age 2, so the preschooler has already defied all odds. It's no wonder that her mom, Kristy Somerset-Chiappalone, calls her Super Girl.
In a few weeks, Sophia will undergo another risky surgery. But beforehand, her mom wanted to make one of her dreams come true. Sophia's wish? To marry her best friend, Hunter. So with help from Hunter, his mom and the community, Sophia's wish came true.
Sophia's mom feels that at this age, Sophia more fully understands her condition and the risks of the surgery. Somerset-Chiappalone wanted to do something special to bring a smile to her daughter's face. When she asked Sophia what she wanted to do, her daughter responded that she wanted to marry her best friend, Hunter.
Hunter Laferriere and Sophia are BFFs and they have been since they met last year at Vacation Bible School. Fortunately, Somerset-Chiappalone and Hunter's mom, Tracy Laferriere are also friends, so when she approached her about Sophia's dream, the mother-of-the-groom was onboard.
Laferriere contacted her close friend, Marisa Balletti-Lavoie of Sassy Mouth Photography, who agreed to document the occasion, as well as Jessica Boni of Bliss Bridal, who heard the story and said “I got you girl,” sending over four dresses for Sophia to choose from for her big day.
Hunter and Sophia had their ceremonial photo shoot at a playground where they posed for pictures, played in the leaves and rode on the slides. All of the typical things a 5-year-old might do at a wedding.
Somerset-Chiappalone spoke to MNN about her favorite memory of the day, "The absolute best moment was watching the sheer joy on my little girl's face. Watching her get to be a princess in love, instead of a girl fighting since her first breath. That was everything."
Lafierrere not only helped organize the wedding, but she also set up a GoFundMe page to help Somerset-Chiappalone, a single mom with two older daughters, deal with the financial burden of her youngest daughter's illness.