When it all comes together… How the nurses of 7West put together a perfect wedding with some help from their friends

December 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm 53 comments

Wedding programs

The wedding was perfect—a beautiful bride in a white dress, gorgeous autumn flowers, an outpouring of love from friends and family. The only difference between this wedding and a fairy tale was its locale, which was the surgical waiting room on the first floor of Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

The November 10 wedding, for 19-year-old leukemia patient Courtney Sprenkle and her then-fiance Scott Shelly, was pulled together in about a week’s time. Courtney and Scott had originally planned to get married next year but, after already putting much of their lives on hold during her fight with cancer, she decided the time was right.

Courtney was originally diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia two years ago. During that time, she had three rounds of chemotherapy and two bone marrow transplants, all with Scott by her side. While each treatment was temporarily successful, the leukemia always returned a few months later. After her most recent relapse in October, she talked with her care team about her dream of a picture-perfect wedding.

“We said ‘if she wants it, we’ll make it happen,’” recalls Carol Magee, one of Courtney’s nurses on 7 West, Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

Once the nursing staff got the official go-ahead from Courtney, they pooled their resources—and talent—together to create the perfect day. Most of the decorations and food were donated, an effort spearheaded by Carol and fellow nurses Kami Keller and Jennifer Strayer. Per Courtney’s request, nurse Susie Seaman baked her famous chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that blended perfectly with the fall theme. Courtney’s dress was perhaps the easiest part of the preparations, as she had already decided to wear the gown her mother chose for her own vow renewal.

As the nurses worked their magic on the wedding plans, they reached out to the Jedediah Thomas Smith Foundation for additional help. Named for a patient who died in 2010 after an eight-year fight with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, one of the foundation’s goals is to support other families who are affected by cancer.

“Carol was of my brother’s nurses and we kept in touch with many of the nurses from when Jed was in treatment,” says Savannah Smith, president of the foundation. “When the nurses first realized this was something they wanted to do, they were interested in planning something small. But as they got more in to the planning, they realized it would be a lot bigger.”

Between their contacts with local companies, Courtney’s wedding planners were able to get most items donated, including the rings, tuxedos, and hair and makeup services. The group effort continued on the wedding day itself, as Savannah and Terry Shapiro, one  of Courtney’s nurse practitioners, photographed the ceremony and its seventy-some guests. Members of the foundation and hospital staff were also on-hand to decorate the media room, where the reception was held, and to help get Courtney ready for the ceremony. “I thought I would be really emotional, but it was such a happy day,” Savannah says. “It was very joyous to know that she was able to have that opportunity.”

Following the reception, a “getaway” car on loan from the Antique Auto Museum at Hershey was on standby, ready to whisk the newlyweds to the Hershey Lodge for their brief honeymoon. As an inpatient currently receiving chemotherapy, Courtney needed to return to the Medical Center at 2:00am the morning after her wedding to receive her ongoing therapy regimen, but the wedding not only met her expectations, it provided a reminder of the life she was fighting for.

On Sunday, December 2, Courtney lost her battle with cancer. The nurses of 7 West feel the loss acutely but know they played an important part in not only Courtney’s care, but also in making one of her last wishes come true.

“We are honored and privileged to have been able to care for her and her family, as to have been able to provide her and Scott with their dream wedding while she was still healthy, ” Magee said. “She was a strong, brave, beautiful person, and we as nurses are better for having known her.”

Family, friends, and hospital staff witnessed the wedding of patient Courtney Sprenkle and Scott Shelly on Nov. 10.

Family, friends, and hospital staff witnessed the wedding of patient Courtney Sprenkle and Scott Shelly on Nov. 10.

The nurses of 7 West pose for a picture outside the room of patient Courtney Sprenkle.

The nurses of 7 West (Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital) pose for a picture outside the room of patient Courtney Sprenkle.

Scott Shelly and new bride, Courtney Sprenkle, who passed away on Dec. 2 after celebrating her dream wedding at Penn State Hershey on Nov. 10.

Scott Shelly and new bride, Courtney Sprenkle, who passed away on Dec. 2 after celebrating her dream wedding at Penn State Hershey on Nov. 10.

by Holly Swanson

Entry filed under: Features. Tags: , , , , , , .

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53 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kristen  |  December 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    A very touching story. My thoughts and prayers go out to Courtney and Scott’s family.

    Reply
    • 2. Amy Eisenhauer  |  December 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who knew Courtney – what an amazing woman and story!!

      Reply
  • 3. Mattea  |  December 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    amazing story. my thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends. may god be with them all.

    Reply
  • 4. Tammy and Dave  |  December 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    how touching this is..prayers go out for the family… she was beautiful… GOD BLESS

    Reply
  • 5. Andrea  |  December 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Her wedding was beautiful and she got here last wish to marry the man she loved. It made me cry when I read here wedding store. Scott you had a wonderful angel of a wife. She will be by your side everyday. Andrea cupernall

    Reply
  • 6. John  |  December 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Prayers go out to both families for peace and strength.
    To the nurses of 7 West ….YOU ROCK!!!!

    Reply
  • 7. Crystal Roxanne Emory Payne  |  December 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Everytime I read this story or her obituary I cry. Such a sad story with such a brave soul. You will be missed Courtney.

    Reply
  • 8. Cathy J. Guthridge  |  December 4, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Prayers to both Families,and the Nurse’s that did all they could to make one of her dreams come true!!
    God Bless You All!!

    Reply
  • 9. Sue Vandegriff  |  December 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I can tell you that my own daughter just spent 28 days @ HMC & I have never met a greater group of nurses in my life (and we’ve spent alot of time in the hospital) Thank goodness to the nurses who made this happen & God Bless Courtney & Scott & the families involved. And God Bless the nurses who gave this beautiful woman her dying wish. <3

    Reply
  • 10. Sue  |  December 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    That is so wonderful they did all that for these two people. Shall be watching over the nurse that did this for her… Very sad and my pray are with the family & friends.

    Reply
  • 11. Trudy Mays  |  December 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    God Bless You all in this sorrowful time! She”s SO beautiful!! Sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  • 12. Tina Clopper  |  December 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Ladies you are to be commended…..every girl has a dream of her wedding and you gave that to Courtney…you have set an example for all of us……may god rest your beautiful soul Courtney….

    Reply
  • 13. Bobbie Jo  |  December 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    God has truly blessed us here on earth with angels among us… These 7 nurses and everyone involved in this dear girls life are truly a blessing. God bless!

    Reply
  • 14. Karen stewart  |  December 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    What wonderful nurses and so compassionate…u all are her angels rip Courtney…prayers to your family and all your friends at this time…shine above us all

    Reply
  • 15. Nancy  |  December 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    What a beautiful story, Hershey is the best Hospital I know my daughter Tammy Stacknick was a patient there for 25 yrs. and every time she stayed at the hospital they went above and beyond their duty to make her comfortable,I was so touched by there story, it brought back lots and lots of memories God Bless you all and keep up the great work each and everyone of you. Tammy has since passed on, but I’ll never forget all you have done for us

    Reply
  • 16. Teresa  |  December 4, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    What a beautiful story, lovely couple, lasting memories for all involved! Nurses on 7west and whomever else was involved to make this young angel’s dream come true, YOU ROCK! You are the heroes of this story! Thank you, from someone who doesn’t know one person in any of the beautiful wedding pictures. There really are GREAT people in this world!

    Reply
  • 17. Lauren  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Beautiful story! Prayers to Courtney and Scott’s friends and family. May she rest in peace live on internally in the hearts of all the lives she has touched. God Bless.

    Reply
  • 18. Jennifer  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    What a great bunch of nurses and staff… they are truly there for their patients… God Bless the families and friends of Courtney and Scott.

    Reply
  • 19. mary  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    very happy we still have people who care more then they have too about other people and give all to show they do care !! Beyond the call of duty God Bless you and the family and may Courtney RIP

    Reply
  • 20. Linda Gustin  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    This story shows that “nurses” not only care for a patients body, but also their spirit and inner happiness and peace. What a beautiful exampe of bringing a young womens dreams for fruition. It was truly a wedding built out of love!! God Bless all souls who had a hand in a true fairytale!!!!

    Reply
  • 21. Anna Marie Beveridge  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    These nurses are so wonderful and caring. Oh if only everyone could come together at times like this. How beautiful the bride was. How wonderful to have her dream wedding. god bless everyone involved.

    Reply
  • 22. Michelle Missy Dice Barnes  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    So sad but so graceful & blessed to have been her care givers. God Bless her Family & Husband may she R.I.P.

    Reply
  • 23. Stephanie  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    This is such a wonderful thing that was done for them. Thoughts go out to the family and friends during this time of loss ….I’ m glad that Hersheys children’s. Hospital is still a great medical center and care about their patients just as they did when I was there.

    Reply
  • 24. Tracy Rise Up Solomon  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    My son was supposed to come home for the Holiday’s back in 1986, but died at the age of 4 as the result of a tragic accident…I’ll never forget the nurses and doctor’s that were so nice to my son from Hershey Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. They even attended the funeral. I was so grateful to them for all they had done for my baby Pierre’. Although I continue to “try” to make it through the holiday’s, the feeling of missing my son will never go away. But knowing he’s watching over me helps to get through the day and especially the Holiday’s. I want to send my condolences to Scott and Courtney’s family, and let them know I truly understand their pain. God has called home another Angel to watch over you. She’s sharing her story up there in “Heaven” for everyone to hear, while the big Brass Trumpets play….God bless you and know that she is alright now :-) No more pain and suffering anymore.

    Reply
  • 25. Michelle  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    My thoughts & prayers go out to Scott & to Courtney’s family & friends. This is truly an inspiring story of one womans courageous battle, a drea of a perfect wedding day & a wonderful nursing staff who helped to make it so!! It’s nice to know that there’s amazing ppl in this world!!

    Reply
  • 26. Bobbie Jo Long  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    This was a AMAZING thing that the nurse’s did for them. My heart and prayers are with the family. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

    Reply
  • 27. Kathy Bixler  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    This story is fantastic, I am reading this story and the tears are falling down my face, I am so happy that Courtney and Scott got to enjoy a day that they will never forget, and the nurses at Hershey are by far THE BEST!!!!!! Way to go LADIES Way to go::))

    Reply
  • 28. Mark Hosler  |  December 4, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you nursing staff for making this happen. It was a beautiful day. I’m glad I had the privilege of being a part of it. God bless you all.

    Reply
  • 29. Joyce K  |  December 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Those nurses, HMC, the foundation, and those in the community who donated to the wedding gave so many acts of kindness to this angel of God. May God bless them and Courtney’s family in their time of grief. Scott, she was blessed by having a caring, loving fiance/husband.

    Reply
  • 30. Kelly Hart  |  December 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. My heart goes out to Courtney & Scott and their families.

    Reply
  • 31. Amanda  |  December 4, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    The Hershey Medical Center is an amazing place and this story just goes to show that even more. My thoughts and prayers are with Scott and the rest of Courtneys family.

    Reply
  • 32. W. Michael Robinson  |  December 5, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Here is the story from the local paper here in Courtney’s home town. Folks my daughter was a patient in Hershey Medical Center and had awesome care but this… THIS IS what angels do thank you from a caring parent, average citizen, and Life long fan of Penn State Hershey Medical Center Ladies you did a BEAUTIFUL thing THANK YOU
    From The Record Herald, Courtney’s Hometown Newspaper

    http://www.therecordherald.com/article/20121203/NEWS/121209972/1001/NEWS

    Reply
  • 33. Jill Lutz  |  December 5, 2012 at 5:40 am

    What a crushing ending! My heart aches for Courtney’s husband and family…I love the smile on her face in that wedding photo! Such joy. On a side note, almost 13 years ago I had a 2 month stay at Hershey and I agree, the Med. Center nurses are incredible. In those 2 months, I felt like my friends were taking of me. Nurses really do deserve angel wings!

    Reply
  • 34. Andrea L Mull  |  December 5, 2012 at 7:27 am

    What a wonderful, sincere, & blessed event to have in the last days of a precious life…my heart goes out to Courtney and Scott’s families…and to the nurses and staff of 7W…

    Reply
  • 35. Dee Custer  |  December 5, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Beautiful. My thoughts and prayers are with the families at this difficult time. I pray every day a cure for cancer will be found.

    Reply
  • 36. Linette A Irish  |  December 5, 2012 at 8:13 am

    What a beautiful job the nurses done. My condolences are sent to Scott n Courtney’s families. Keep up the great care 7 Weat nurses.

    Reply
  • 37. Alice Mabry  |  December 5, 2012 at 8:44 am

    What a wonderful and beautiful thing for those nurses to have done for Courtney and Scott !!! I believe there is a very special place in Heaven for Nurses like you !!! Sincere Sympathy to both Courtney and Scott’s families and to the Nurses of 7 West!!!!! God Bless You All!!!!

    Reply
  • 38. Lori Ruth  |  December 5, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I Love the hmc they have some of the most caring nurses there. I was admitted to hershey 2 weeks before my wedding and due to be in the hospital for 3 months. I was very sad that I was not going to be able to have my wedding. But the girls on the maturnity ward there made it possible for me to have a wedding in the chapel and reception in one of the waiting rooms. I will never forget them for this. God bless all those wonderful nurses of Courtney’s and my nurses in 2009. That is truly going way beyond the call of duty… You girls will always have a special place in my heart.

    Reply
  • 39. Christine  |  December 5, 2012 at 11:13 am

    What a awesome but sad story god bless the family at this time. God bless the wonderful staff for making a dream come true.

    Reply
  • 40. Regina  |  December 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    What an amazing group of ppl. Nurses, patients, and family members of cancer are heros! God bless. In my thoughts and prayers

    Reply
  • 41. Carol  |  December 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Angels helping Angels

    Reply
  • 42. Diane  |  December 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    A beautiful story, they should of had many more years together. Scott is a very special person and I hope he realizes how happy he made Courtney. I am sorry for everyones losses. Thanks also to the nurses of Hershey Hospital.

    Reply
  • 43. gerrie  |  December 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

    These nurses are gods angels .What a beautiful thing to do .May gods love surround you .You are a blessing to the human spirit .

    Reply
  • 44. Mary  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    What a wonderful memory for Courtney, Scott and their families. My prayers go out to them as they mourn their loss. My brother passed away from cancer 37yrs ago on Dec2nd at CHOP. The nurses that care for these patients and their families are special angels – truly a blessing in a very difficult time.

    Reply
  • 45. Linda  |  December 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    As someone currently battling recurrence this story made me smile and cry. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. Blessings to all of the nurses for making this such a special day for 2 special people. You are amazing.

    Reply
  • 46. Bonnie Rosborough Houy  |  December 7, 2012 at 7:02 am

    I was so moved by this story, but not surprised. For, WE ARE PENN STATE. This characterizes who we are and the standards WE try to live up to. Bonnie ’81 Edu

    Reply
  • 47. Brenda Simmons  |  December 7, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Rest in peace baby girl Aunt Brenda loves you very much.

    Reply
  • 50. Give It Away: Hope for the Holidays « Cherry Socks  |  December 11, 2012 at 6:50 am

    [...] young woman from our community lost her battle with leukemia last Sunday, less than a month after nurses at Hershey Medical Center helped her realize her dream of marriage. I can only imagine how hard this Christmas will be for her husband and [...]

    Reply
  • 51. Jenni Pitz  |  December 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Oh my what a touching story. I have a very dear friend at Hershey with AML and on the same floor with those nurses and they are wonderful.. I remember seeing the “JUST MARRIED” on the door of her room. Prayers to the Families.

    Reply
  • 52. Dan  |  March 31, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Wow, what an amazing story. My thoughts and prayers go out to Courtney and Scott’s family too. Life is precious.

    Reply
  • 53. Jerri  |  April 27, 2013 at 11:18 am

    WOW!!!TO GOD TO BE THE GLORY!!!!

    Reply

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