Wish Upon a Wedding

The World's First Nonprofit Wedding Wish Granting Organization

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Wish Upon a Wedding is pleased to announce this upcoming celebration with a special vow renewal ceremony for Wally and Debra.

Wally and Debra, both 39 years old, met through a co- worker of Debra’s, who was hosting a party to raise money for his hockey team.  According to Debra, “We talked all night and Wally walked me to a cab at the end of the night.”

Debra says that Wally is a beautiful person but, “it’s his heart and his kindness to others that makes him truly a beautiful person. He’s always helping others and volunteering his time.”

Wally spent some time in Japan for a semester of college and the couple had always talked about traveling. One night over sushi Wally and Debra decided to take a trip to Osaka, Japan. During the first night of the trip in front of the Osaka castle, Wally proposed to Debra.

A destination wedding soon followed, and although it was beautiful, many of the couple’s closest family and friends were unable to attend.  They would like Wish Upon a Wedding to help them celebrate a special vow renewal ceremony closer to home, so all their loved ones can share the day with them.

Out of the blue, Wally was diagnosed with Parotid Gland Cancer in December of 2008.  Their daughter Riley was just six months old at the time. Wally had been very active, playing volleyball and hockey, as well as riding bikes.  Now he can barely walk without pain.

After his diagnosis, he soon had a paradectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy. The doctors and the couple believed he was cancer free. But in May of 2010, he began experiencing pain in his pelvis, ribs and lungs. A PET Scan revealed the cancer had spread to his bones, which the CT Scans had not detected. The bone cancer is now all over his body, and doctors estimate he has 12 months to live, and his health is rapidly deteriorating.

It is Wally’s wish to renew his vows with the love of his life, Debra, in front of his daughter Riley, and before Debra gives birth to their next child.  Debra is currently pregnant.

When Wally was first diagnosed, the couple thought it was a curable cancer however, they both knew Wally would have to have surgery followed by intense radiation and chemotherapy.

For his intense treatments, Wally would show up at the hospital on Sunday night, and spend the entire week in the hospital. He did this every other week for five months. It was tough for him to be away from his baby daughter, and he still feels he missed out on some valuable time with her.

During the time they believed he was cancer-free, Wally and Debra struggled to get pregnant again.  When they finally did, they learned that Wally’s cancer had metastasized in his bones.  His biggest dream now is to see his baby be born and hold his baby in his hands.

Wally and Debra know that Wally will never have the opportunity to see his children grow up, but the couple dreams and hopes that he can be there for them in the beginning.

Debra says, “We are a team, a united front, to our family and friends. No matter how hard it gets, we always try to put a positive spin on everything. We’re celebrating today and thankful for each day.”

Although they do not know what the future looks like, they are looking forward to this very special celebration with those closest to them, and plan to celebrate life, love and family.

The Chicago chapter is under way with plans for Wally and Debra’s special day, and we’ll keep you posted as plans progress.

Congratulations Wally and Debra~ We are honored to provide this special day for you and your loved ones.

Categories: Blog

29 Responses so far.

  1. Jenny Han says:

    I adore Wally and Deb and hope that they can cherish the happiness and love they have with and for each other. While my heart breaks, it also swells for them. I hope they have the event they wish for times 1000. Hugs and kisses. Jenny Han

  2. Cathy Parker says:

    This will be a wonderful celebration!!! :-) looking forward to it!

  3. chris schmidt says:

    Hey wall,

    You know what ever you need from me buddy.

    Love you man


  4. Erin Reed says:

    I’m happy you are doing this and can’t wait to come. I think of you and pray for great news everyday.
    Love you all, Erin

  5. Matt Haller says:

    Colleen and I love you buddy and we would never have met without you! You are and always will be an extremely special person to the both of us. We would be honored to attend this.

  6. Elizabeth Burnside says:

    I am so honored to share in this day with you both. I would not miss it for the world.
    Love to you both and to Riley. Bittsy

  7. sandy says:

    much love to you both

  8. Scott Sutker says:

    Looking forward to sharing the day with you. Same as Matt Haller, Holly and I would not have met without Wally. We would not have had two beautiful kids either. That is a testament to who Wally is and how many lives he has touched.

  9. Rashaun Ewing says:


    You and your family will be in my prayers buddy!!

  10. Debra Coltune says:

    Dear Wally and Debra:
    Love is the ultimate way for your connection and bond to be ever lasting! You are soul mates forever! Spiritually you are together as a unit! Cherish every moment and keep making beautiful memories together. Wally, I have known you for my whole life and I know you are strong. I am honored that you have touched me. Again, as you and Deb touch me with this story, I say GOD BLESS!
    Love to you and your family,
    Debra (Farkas) Coltune.

  11. Lisa Cristia says:

    Hey Deb and Wally. You know our thought are with you guys during this time. Stay positive, stay strong and stay happy as you renew your love in front of your friends and families. Please share photos with us.

  12. Shawn Lowman - Halloran says:

    Peace & Love……..

    Jenna and I are looking forward to supporting you and your family on this incredible day!

  13. Matt Harvey says:

    Wally and Deb,
    I was truly heartbroken when I caught wind of the news. The world needs more people like you both, and I consider myself blessed to have spent even a little time with you. I know the wedding will be a fantastic one. I hope to make it to the Hockey event on Friday, and to help however I can. My prayers will be with you all and I am looking forward to the next time we can hang out.

    Matt Harvey

  14. Jim DeBolt says:

    Wally, Heather and I are yet another couple who met because of you. You have always been a great friend and a wonderful person. Stay strong. Our love and support goes out to you and Deb and Riley.

    All our love, Jim and Heather DeBolt

  15. susangange says:

    Dear Debbie and Wally, I am so glad that you can both renew your wedding vows. I know it will be a very special day for everyone. Wally, my thoughts are with you. I have known your mother for thirty years and I just want to be there for her. I am so glad that you are having a baby and I know that you cannot wait. I am so sorry that you are not doing well. I do not pray very often, but when I go to temple for the high holiday’s, I will say a prayer for you and your family. I know that you will live every day to it’s fullest. I hope that you and Debbie have a wonderful celebration. All my love, Susan Gange

  16. Marija Bjelanovic says:

    Wally and Debbi,
    I have lived with you for one year and have experienced your kindness, honestly, sincerity, love..There is much more to say about both of you but the words just can not describe your personality!!!
    On this occasion, I am wishing you to continue with the fight you started against that evil disease and really hope that you will stay strong and full of faith and to believe in life.
    Love you so much, you deserve only the best !!!!!!!!!

  17. Brook Critchfield says:

    Wally and Deb,

    You likely don’t remember me, but when I moved to Chicago just after college you were both profoundly generous with your food, beer, and home. I was fortunate enough to drink more than a few beers in your apartment with Brad, Mike, and Matt, most often while enjoying a Pearl Jam dvd. While I haven’t seen either of you in years, I’ll certainly never forget how welcoming you both were to what was a horde of surely obnoxious 21-year-olds.

    Congratulations on your beautiful family, best wishes for the future, and I hope you have a wonderful second wedding.


    Brook Critchfield

  18. Dear Wally and Debbie,
    You inspire me with the way you live your lives. I am so happy that you will celebrate your love with us all. You are such a beautiful family and it is amazing to watch you walk through all of this with such grace. Wally you hold the most beautiful family member title inside and out!!
    So much love,
    Peggy,Terry Keeley and Conall

  19. Kim (Burback) Truesdale says:

    My heart aches… your story is beyond my grasp. My hope for you is to beat this terrible thing and have a beautiful wedding day. Wally- you are strong beyond words can say. What a beautiful family you have. You have been blessed. Wish we had time to catch up at the reunion. Strength, love and prayers coming your way daily…Take care, my friend.

  20. Brad Schwarz says:

    Hey Wally and Deb,
    I can’t thank you guys enough for all the times we shared in Chicago when I was there. You guys have been such truly amazing friends. It’s pretty obvious from all of these responses that you guys have played an amazing role in so many others lives as well. I’m thinking and praying for you guys and let me know if there is ANYTHING at all I can do.


  21. mmarcy/richard schwarz says:

    Both Richard and I are so saddened by your prognosis. We truly believe that if it wasn’t for you Brad’s experiences during his three years in Chicago would have been drastically different. You were always there to support him, play hockey, drink (so I’m told), provide air mattresses (to which we are eternally grateful) and just a basic true friendship he is so fortunate to have. He loves and appreciates all you and Debra are and what you have given him. If he is as good a husband, father and son as you so admirably are, we will be very lucky. G-d bless you and your family and know that you all are in our prayers.

  22. Michael Greer says:

    You are and have always been such a wonderful guy. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Lefty Slam

  23. Faith Long Anderson says:


    Have a wonderful vow renewal! What a beautiful family you have. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    :) Faith & Marc Anderson

  24. Nikki Eisenberg says:

    Wally, I am wishing you comfort and blessings. It breaks my heart to think of you in pain. Debra’s comments about your kindness ring true. I remember at H-F you never met a stranger…kind to everyone, never partial to any specific clique or social group. Grasp, enjoy and seize every day… Pulling for you, my friend.

  25. Li’l Inspirations is so proud to be part of this wonderful organization and honored to be selected as their ‘official gift’ for every wedding couple. Li’l Inspirations creates custom wedding handkerchiefs for each couple Wish Upon A Wedding marries.

  26. Siobhan Cafferty says:

    Wally and Debbi,

    Thinking about you guys and sending tons of warm wishes for tonight’s celebration. Enjoy every moment!

    Lots of Love,
    Siobhan, Chris, Christy and Packy

  27. [...] take a moment to read our previous post for the rest of Debbi and Wally’s touching story, and join us in wishing them all the best [...]

  28. Christine (Panagiotou) Pompeo says:

    Wally – I know it has been a long time since we have been in touch but I have never forgotten of all the fun times! You were such a great friend. Your devotion to your family shows what a wonderful man you are. You are an inspiration to your daughters and to those that have had been blessed with knowing you. I will continue to pray for you and your family. May God bless you.

  29. Hadrian Charmin says:

    Your whole family has played a huge part in my life. I love and care for you all.