Newlyweds use unique wedding to raise money for cancer

By David Nordby The Brillion News

BRILLION – It doesn’t get much more unique than a musical wedding. Unless you surprise your family by inviting them to a picnic in the park and they find themselves at a wedding ceremony.

The scene that could be found in a romantic comedy was played out by Cory Faris and Rosie Love on June 18 when they held a surprise, musical wedding.

The surprise came for multiple reasons. The couple wanted a simple wedding confined to 25 people, including the two of them, and they also didn’t want any gifts.

At the wedding Faris played guitar while the two of them sang. Faris’ best friend served as the “host” and played the ukulele.

The family, mainly consisting of immediate members, sat around on blankets in Horn Park in Brillion that was decorated with red and blue balloons.

The newlyweds hope that the creative wedding will give them some attention to in turn raise money for a friend suffering with cancer.

Raising money for cancer

While the wedding was unique and special, the newlyweds are now hoping to make the video of their wedding go viral.

Jennifer Phoenix was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on her birthday in February. Phoenix was brought to America from Ghana by her father when she was four as an illegal immigrant, but Phoenix didn’t discover she was living in the country illegally until she was 16.

Phoenix’s father abandoned her in New York City where Phoenix went on to graduate high school and college.

Jennifer Phoenix was diagnosed with cancer in February and needs $30,000 to begin treatment in India. Phoenix befriended Faris while the two were teaching in Micronesia and have remained in touch ever since.


Phoenix met Faris in Micronesia and the two befriended each other while both of them were on the island teaching. Phoenix was stuck in Micronesia because she was barred from the United States for living here illegally, and the only flights that left the island flew through American territories.

The United States refused to give her a one-day transit visa but after two years she finally left the island when an airline opened up a flight to the Philippines.

Phoenix lived in the country of Georgia and Kenya before returning to Ghana for a trip and eventually moved to her birth-country after being a person without a true home country for nearly 40 years.

Just as she was finding her place in Ghana and creating friends while helping to open a salon, Phoenix was diagnosed with cancer. The tumor the size of a cantaloupe has taken over her abdomen and left her living in pain and fading health.

Ghana doesn’t even have the medical treatment to diagnose what stage of cancer she has.

One of the only options that Phoenix has is to go to India to have the surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and recovery but Phoenix must pay the entire $30,000 payment before treatments can start.

Faris and Love have raised over $8,000 in four months but are far away from the necessary amount. The couple has both used their networks and social media to help raise awareness, but need more.

The couple is now hoping to use the uniqueness of their wedding, and the video of the ceremony, to help draw attention to the need for more donations.

“We didn’t want any presents … We told everyone if they want to do something, to donate to Jen,” Faris said. “We’re trying to do as much as we can.”

Phoenix is no longer able to help at the salon in Ghana because of her deteriorating health but is starting a new business to attempt to raise money as well.

“We can’t give up on her if she’s not giving up,” Faris said.

Phoenix has a lawyer reviewing her case, but with loopholes likely wouldn’t have a possible return to the United States for at least two years. Phoenix’s father currently has citizenship in Florida.

Canada also has the necessary health treatments but Ghana won’t allow her to go to Canada unless she can show the government that she will return to Ghana someday.

Cancer societies in the United States are unable to do anything either since she’s not living in the country.

“It’s really painful to just think of her sitting back in Ghana,” Faris said, as the couple both fought back tears.

The couple stays in contact with Phoenix through Facebook to keep communication open. If something were to happen to Phoenix, they likely would not know anything since they don’t know her circle of people she’s with in Ghana.

Those interested in donating can visit tinyurl.com/donatejennifer or view the wedding video at tinyurl.com/musicalwedding.

Please see the complete story in the July 7, 2016 edition of The Brillion News. The rest of the story features the history behind the reconnection of Faris and Love that led to marriage, future aspirations and their lifestyle. 

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