Posted : Saturday Aug 22, 2009 8:22:22 EDT
Wedding receptions are a dime a dozen at Idlewild Country Club in Flossmoor, Ill. One in the middle of August, though, stood out. Even the waiters couldn’t help but wipe their eyes at the Del Toro affair.
Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro and his wife, Carmen, who had tied the knot in a simple civil ceremony, finally realized their dream for a big church wedding and reception four years after a roadside bomb almost killed him.
The Del Toros hadn’t meant to keep pushing back their plans. It just happened.
First, there was the hectic pace of Israel’s work as a joint terminal attack controller, one of only a few hundred airmen who travel with the Army to call in airstrikes. The couple settled for a trip to the courthouse to say, “I do.”
Then, an explosion in Afghanistan burned Israel over 80 percent of his body. Suddenly, the biggest church wedding in the world didn’t matter to Carmen — only helping Israel get better, helping him get through the dozens of skin graph surgeries.
But Israel never forgot their dream — and wanted to show his wife of seven years just how much she means to him.
The couple walked down the aisle of St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet, Ill., near Israel’s hometown and then hosted a reception at Idlewild.
“After I got hurt, she said, ‘It doesn’t matter about a wedding; I got you, you’re alive,’” Israel told the Southtown Star newspaper in suburban Chicago. “With what she’s gone through with me it’s just ... it’s the least I can go to give her the wedding she’s always wanted. She’s amazing, and she deserves this.”
The reception had two surprises.
As the wedding party was introduced, the Del Toros learned that members of the country club and others from his hometown area had quietly paid for the $15,000 reception.
“It was just something we had to do,” said George Davis, a board member of the club.
As the couple took center stage for the first dance, Israel pointed to a big screen. On it appeared singer Richard Marx, who recorded Carmen’s favorite song, “Right Here Waiting.” Marx dedicated the song to them before singing it.
The video, the donation — it was all more than the Idlewood staff could take, said Peter Corydon, who was helping run the reception.
Out came the tissue.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” he said.