Stephanie Gray is a mother who has a biological daughter that doesn’t look much like her. She remembers that, while she was in labor, the doctor mentioned that she saw blond hair. Being half-Chinese, she didn’t expect her daughter to have blond hair, even though her husband is white.
She thought she was prepared to end up with having a child with light features due to her knowledge of biology, but she was still hoping that her kid would look more ethnic to match some of her features. These included having almost black colored hair that was stick-straight, rounded cheekbones, and even almond-shaped eyes.
A Daughter With a Different Look
After carefully examining her daughter’s features, Stephanie wondered whether or not her blue eyes and fair colored hair would last. Her husband would reassure her, letting her know that she would look just like her if she had blonde hair and blue eyes. However, there was still a feeling of insecurity.
Comments from family members and strangers only intensified the insecurities since they would say her daughter didn’t get her features or looked more like her father than her mother.
Wanting to Embrace Her Background
Being half-Chinese and growing up in Canada, Stephanie and her family have experienced racism first hand. Neither she, nor her mother, spoke any Chinese, her grandparents spoke it rarely, and she did not embrace many Chinese traditions or strongly identify herself as Chinese. Still, Stephanie wants to establish some traditions for her daughter.
She wants to teach her daughter about the Chinese language, signature cooking, and traditions, and she also wants her to know how poorly her ancestors were treated just because they weren’t white.
She also mentions that because of her features, she has privileges that others don’t have and will likely not have problems with racism. However, she still wants her daughter to understand those privileges.
Bride Was Walked Down the Aisle by Man Who Received Her Father’s Heart
For most people, kindness and helping others are taught from a young age. Sometimes a single incident can spark a chain reaction of kindness. This story will show you how. So without further ado, let us dive into a story about kindness.
The Importance of Family
Children rely on their parents and family to protect them and cater to their needs from the minute they are born. When parents are able to actively foster their children’s positive growth and development, they flourish just as Jeni was able to.
What it Means to Be a Father
Being a father entails giving unconditional love and asking nothing in return. Modeling G-d’s grace and treating all people fairly and with kindness. It entails providing for and safeguarding your children.
Being a father entails teaching and being actively involved in your children’s lives in order to raise them into respectable individuals. A parent is a hero and a role model. They’re a sturdy shoulder to cry on and someone to congratulate you on your accomplishments. Being a father entails all of these responsibilities and more.
Father’s Are a Daughter’s Best Friend
He may only be her father, but a father to a girl is much more than that. A girl’s father becomes more than simply her parent throughout her life. He becomes her role model, the first person she tells when she has received good news, and, should we say, her best friend.
Your dad will always be there for you, whether you are ranting about school troubles or a buddy scenario, no matter how minuscule the issue may be. Fathers are always honest and deliver the greatest advice.
The Importance of Father-Daughter Relationships
The establishment of a father-daughter relationship at an early age is an important part of a girl’s psychological development. Fathers serve as role models. They establish the groundwork for safety, trust, and love.
Daughters tend to judge all other males who enter their life later based on the example established by their fathers. If a girl has a good relationship with her father, she will grow confident. A kind father encourages his daughter to be proud of herself by assisting her at every step of her life.
Meet Michael Stepien
Michael Stepien was a chef from Swissvale. This, however, was not his only identity. He was a beloved family man, and a loving husband. More than anything else, he was an amazing father to his children.
He loved his daughter unconditionally and did everything in his power to give her the best life. As heard from his friends and family, Michael was one of the kindest people they have known. As a father, he tried his best to give his daughter the life she deserved.
Meet Jeni Stepien
Jeni Stepien is the daughter of Michael Stepien. Growing up, she was the apple of her father’s eye. He loved her, and she loved her father in return. She looked up to him for inspiration. As a matter of fact, Jeni and Michael Stepien were quite possibly the absolute closest father-daughter duos one could ever come across.
Jeni was deeply inspired by her father, and he made a huge positive impact on her life. They stayed very close until tragedy struck their happy little family.
Tragedy Strikes the Stepiens
It was the year 2006 when things changed for the Stepien family. One of the worst things imaginable happened to the family. Michael Stepien was on his way home after a long day at work when he was attacked by a young and armed teenage male.
Michael Stepien was robbed and unfortunately injured by the man. He passed away in that incident, leaving his broken-hearted family behind. The teenage male responsible for his demise was held accountable and he received a sentence in prison.
A Kind Decision
Michael Stepien, as we have already mentioned, was a very generous man. Even after his passing away, he made sure to help people who needed help. So, he had enlisted himself for organ donation.
The Stepien family accepted the inevitable and donated his organs to the Center for Organ Recovery and Education. After a transplant, this group allows donor families and recipients to stay in touch. This one decision was going to make the lives of another family so much better.
A Little About the Center
Did you know that organ donation can save the lives of up to eight individuals, while tissue donation can cure the lives of up to 75 people? The Center for Organ Recovery and Education, CORE, is a non-profit organization dedicated to organ recovery and education.
The organization provides services related to the transplant procedure. It also coordinates the surgical recovery of organs, tissue, corneas, and computerized organ matching. CORE works with communities around the United States.
Three Hundred Miles Away
Arthur Thomas, a 62-year-old man from New Jersey, was also on the verge of passing away. He had been diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia 16 years before. Ventricular tachycardia is a cardiac condition marked by abnormal electrical activity.
The ability of his heart to function as a pump was no longer sufficient to meet the demands of his body. He was on the verge of passing away from congestive heart failure. Unfortunately, he was unable to get a replacement organ for a really long time — until now.
The Impact of Organ Donation
People with life-threatening heart failure, including congenital abnormalities and valve dysfunctions, can benefit from a donated heart. Heart recipients have a 75% or higher five-year survival rate and should expect a significant increase in their quality of life.
Maggie McLaren, for example, was one year old when her one working heart ventricle left her so weak that she couldn’t even crawl. She needed a heart transplant. Maggie’s heart transplant has given her a new lease on life, allowing her to run and swim.
Saving a Life
Coming back to the Stepien family, after they made the decision to donate the organs of Michael Stepien via the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, the organs were received by none other than the 62-year-old Arthur Thomas, all the way from New Jersey.
Arthur Thomas was previously told that he would have to be in a very severe yet recoverable condition to be on top of the priority list of potential organ receivers. Thomas’ life was saved by the Stepien family’s tragedy.
Arthur Thomas in Recovery
The recovery from a heart transplant is identical to that of any other type of heart surgery. The incisions tend to heal in roughly six to eight weeks. He took some time off to spend on his recovery, just as recommended. He spent his days with his children and family.
Slowly but surely, he started getting better. All thanks to the surgery, which would not have been possible without the kind decision of a family struck by tragedy. So, he made a decision to reach out to them.
Reaching Out to the Donors
Many donor families desire to contact the receiver or recipients of their loved one. Some people wish to meet them and learn more about the donor. Learning that their loved one’s organs, eyes, or tissue saved or altered someone’s life is incredibly validating for many people, and it can help them cope with their grief and bring a sense of hope.
Many recipients want to do the same as a way to express their gratitude. The Center for Organ Recovery and Education made that possible for Arthur Thomas.
A Letter Sparks a Connection
Arthur Thomas expressed that his life was saved by one small decision. The Stepiens turned the biggest tragedy of their life into a miracle for the family of Arthur Thomas. A singular decision rescued his family. So, when he reached out to them, the letter did something magical.
Maybe his letter rescued their lives as well. His first contact resulted in monthly letters, phone calls, and emails. On Christmas and birthdays, the families exchanged cards and flowers. Despite this, they never met.
A Decade Later
The initial letter sent by Arthur Thomas created a connection that gradually developed over a span of 10 years. Jeni Stepien was now a young woman, and she was engaged to a lovely man. Marriage is a significant milestone in any relationship.
It represents the dedication and love for the person someone wants to spend the rest of their life with. Jeni loved her fiancé, more than she could ever express in words. Nonetheless, she was very nervous. She was missing a key piece of her heart — her father.
Every Girl Needs Her Father on Her Wedding Day
A father’s blessing, support, and wisdom are the most valuable gifts he can give his daughter on her wedding day. This is a crucial role that must not be disregarded. The father of the bride is usually one of the most influential people in the bride’s life.
The father of the bride is meant to walk his daughter down the aisle and “give her away” to her soon-to-be husband. He’ll also give the evening’s first address and propose the first toast. Most brides add a father-daughter dance during their reception.
Jeni Stepien was no different than the rest of the brides. She too wanted her whole family, especially her father. Now, she knew there was no way that Michael himself could be present during the wedding ceremony, which was so important to her life.
However, after putting a little thought into it, Jeni had an idea. A rather bold one, if we may add. She was going to make a request to someone special — a person who used to remind her of her father.
A Brave Request
Jeni Stepien decided to put on a brave face and send another letter to Arthur Thomas. The contents of this one, however, would be slightly different. Jeni wanted to ask him if Arthur would be willing to visit her on the day of the wedding.
She talked about how she is the daughter of the man whose heart now lives inside Arthur Thomas, informing him she was set to be married on the sixth of August. She asked if he would walk her down the aisle.
The Walk Down the Aisle
The bride walking down the aisle is one of the most precious memories of any wedding day. It’s the first time guests — and often the soon-to-be spouse — see the wedding gown, and it signals the beginning of the married adventure.
Daughters are traditionally escorted down the aisle by their fathers. She’s then given away to the groom once they reach the altar. It’s an age-old tradition that is meant to be a moment of shared joy between the father and the daughter.
Arthus Thomas Was Honored
Being asked to be the person who gets to walk the bride down the aisle felt very emotional for Arthur Thomas. He was especially touched since the woman asking him was none other than the daughter of the very person who saved his life.
So, he decided to make it happen. However, at first, he needed the permission of his own daughter, since she was not yet married. Luckily for everyone, his daughter gave him the okay to be a part of Jeni’s wedding.
The Day of the Ceremony
Thomas and his wife flew in from New Jersey to attend the wedding. Everyone met in Swissvale’s St. Anselm church for the ceremony. This was a big moment for both families, since this would be the first time they were ever going to meet in person.
Jeni was nervous yet she very excited. She was finally going to have a part of her father in front of her. Arthur Thomas was nervous and excited, too. He had never walked someone down the aisle before.
Cue the Waterworks
Jeni Stepien has been looking forward to this day for 10 years. She ultimately met the man who now lives with her father’s heart on the night of her wedding day. Jeni and the entire Stepien family were overcome with emotion throughout the meeting.
Everyone was looking forward to meeting Tom, and the family couldn’t think of a more fitting and loving occasion. Jeni knew he was destined to be with her and her soon-to-be-husband, Paul, on their wedding day when she finally saw him at the church.
Jeni’s Words About Arthur Thomas
Tom has a presence similar to that of Michael Stepien when he entered the room. Everyone wants to be around those individuals, said Jeni about her father and Arthur.
Jeni claims she sensed her father’s presence at her wedding, which she thinks would have been incomplete if he hadn’t been present in some way. Just being together with Arthur made her feel close to her father again, which was ideal on this particular day.
Hold My Hand
According to science, the pulse on the inside of the wrist is the part of the body where a person’s heartbeat can be felt the most prominently. Arthur Thomas knew that. Arthur Thomas urged Jeni Stepien to grab his wrist, where his pulse is strongest, when they met the day before the wedding.
Jeni kept thinking how a part of her father was now with her, on her wedding day. She knew her father helped save the man’s life, and the man was now helping her.
Time for the First Dance
The dance between a father and a daughter — it’s the part of the reception when the bride acknowledges her father; it symbolizes her gratitude for her father’s support over the years, as the newlyweds embark on a new chapter in their lives.
This dance, at its best, can create a pleasant moment of family connection. In any case, it’s a must-have at many, if not all, weddings. The father-daughter dance is a means to honor the person who helped the newlyweds through their lives. In this case, it meant honoring Arthur Thomas.
Tom Was Indeed Honored
What higher honor could there be than walking the daughter of the man who has given him his heart? “I can’t think of a higher honor,” Thomas added. Arthur Thomas was deeply grateful for the impact he was able to have on the lives of the Stepien family.
Especially given the gravity of the impact Michael Stepien had on his life. Jeni’s fiancé was deeply touched by Thomas’ act of kindness, too. No one at the ceremony could hold back their tears.
Jeni hopes that by sharing her story, other families who have lost a loved one are be able to see the incredible things that organ donation can accomplish. She’s aware, however, that making such a choice is not always simple.
She understands that the pain of losing a loved one can be so overwhelming that you can’t envision life without them. Making that decision can be difficult. Nonetheless, she urges people to freely discuss the options of organ donation.
Encouraging Organ Donation
Many families, just like Jeni’s, claim that knowing their loved one saved or improved other people’s lives helped them cope with their own loss. Organ donations have an impact on people other than the donors and beneficiaries.
It not only affects the loved ones, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances of a person in need of transplantation but also those who profit from their new life and improved health after the procedure. So, just like Jeni Stepien, we too would like to encourage people to think of organ donation as an option.
An Act of Kindness Can Change a Life
It goes a long way when we go out of our way to do modest acts of kindness. We may easily promote a sense of compassion, community, and overall well-being by being courteous and nice to others around us.
A thoughtful gesture often sparks a pleasant discourse, bringing people together and broadening our understanding of the human condition. When someone pulls us up, an intrinsic inclination drives us to keep spreading that newborn light, and it’s something to rejoice about.