Paralyzed Bride Surprises Wedding Guests by Walking Down the Aisle

10/04/2014 AT 09:05 PM EDT

Six years ago, Gina Giaffoglione of McClelland, Iowa, was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident, but she didn't let this injury stop her from walking down the aisle on her recent wedding day, reports KETV7.

A former athlete, the smiling bride has always been determined to stay fit, even after her accident. It was this zeal and optimism that first attracted Gina's husband, John Springhower, to her.

"He's just that wonderful of a guy that he doesn't see the chair. He just sees me for me and forgets about how I get around," Gina, 27, told KETV7.

After Springhower proposed in December 2012, Gina told her father she wanted to walk down the aisle by his side.



"I told her, 'Whether we roll down that aisle or whether we walk down that aisle, we're going to do this.' It's been her dream," said Gina's dad, Gary Giaffoglione.

Gina went through months of physical therapy at CHI Health Rehabilitation Center at Immanuel Hospital to make this wish come true, and managed to keep her progress a secret the entire time.

After a year and a half, Gina learned to straighten her body and walk with a brace and crutch. Prosthetics specialists with the Hanger Clinic then redesigned the bride's bulky leg brace, so she could covertly hide it under her wedding gown.

All this work led to a stunning surprise for the guests at Gina and John's wedding. While the groom and close family members were aware Gina was going to walk down the aisle, all the other attendees were kept in the dark. The secrecy led to a wedding-day surprise that left many shedding tears of joy as they looked on.

"When you can't feel anything, and you're doing something you used to do that you used to take for granted – because I did, everybody does," said Gina. "When you're back up and doing it, especially having dad on my arm, it's a floating sensation you can't even explain. It's not even about the walking; your emotions are floating."

The newlywed hopes her commitment to following her dream helps others notice the amazing things they have to be thankful for in their daily lives.

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