Madonna Badger, Whose Family Died in a Christmas Day Fire, Marries Bill Duke

Madonna Badger, Whose Family Died in a Christmas Day Fire, Marries Bill Duke
Bill Duke and Madonna Badger
Courtesy Madonna Badger

07/25/2014 AT 05:30 PM EDT

Madonna Badger, whose parents and three daughters died in a Christmas Day fire at her home in 2011, married longtime friend Bill Duke, she announced on her Facebook page.

"We did it!" she wrote Wednesday in a status update that shows Badger and her new husband on the steps of St. John-St. Matthew-Emanuel Lutheran Church in Brooklyn. "Bill and I eloped today!"

The post was immediately flooded with comments from well wishers.

"You are an inspiration and deserve to look as happy as you do in this picture sister," one commenter wrote.

Badger, 50, first revealed her engagement to Duke, an ad agency executive, in an essay she wrote for Vogue in December.

"Bill Duke was one of the three men at the side of my bed when I woke up in the hospital on that Christmas morning," she wrote.

Badger dated one of his brothers years ago and the two remained friends. She left New York after the fire to stay with friends in Arizona and contacted him when she was ready to move back.

"We looked at houses for several weeks," she wrote. "One day he asked me out and I said yes. Recently he asked me to marry him, and I said yes to that, too."

Badger first spoke about the nightmarish day she lost her family and how she's coped with it – she was suicidal and had to be hospitalized – on the Today show in June 2012.

"The first time I smiled or the first time I laughed," she said, "I felt so bad."

After the fire, her ex-husband, Matthew Badger, founded a nonprofit in their daughter's names.

"I had to make their lives matter," Matthew, 49, a former television commercial director, told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview in June 2012.

Both have done their best to heal from the pain of their losses, Madonna wrote in Vogue. She has spent the last couple of Christmases volunteering at an orphanage in Thailand.

"Basically, I go to wherever the light is," she wrote in Vogue, "because anything else is darkness, and it can be a deeply black darkness."

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