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A Mary Free Bed love story

Eighteen years ago, Shelly Loose received a call inviting her on the adventure of a lifetime. She and Ken, her fiancé at the time, were asked if they’d like to be married on the TV show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. For Shelly, a longtime fan of Kathie Lee Gifford and an expectant bride to-be, it was a dream come true.

In May 1987, Shelly became a C5/6 incomplete quadriplegic as the result of a car accident. Two years later, Ken, too, became  a C5/6 incomplete quadriplegic because of an auto accident.

The couple met in 1989 when Ken was at Mary Free Bed following his injury. At that same time, Shelly had returned to Mary Free Bed as a patient for a couple of weeks. During her stay, a therapist asked Shelly if  would help a patient acclimate to his new life in a wheelchair.

Little did Shelly know that the patient would be her future husband, Ken.

Shelly and Ken lost contact after Shelly’s 1989 stay at Mary Free Bed. But, a year later, Ken returned to Mary Free Bed to find Shelly volunteering at the hospital.

The rest is history.

Ken and Shelly were engaged in April 1991.

During Shelly and Ken’s engagement, Shelly was watching Live with Regis and Kathie Lee when she heard they were accepting applications for contestants to be married on their show. Knowing the chances of being chosen were slim, Shelly entered the contest anyway.

A few weeks after sending her story to the show, Shelly was notified that she and Ken were in the running to win the contest. Producers told Shelly to expect a call over the weekend to tell her if she and Ken had won.

“I was on pins and needles all weekend waiting next to the phone for that call,” says Shelly.

When the phone finally rang, she picked up the phone to hear a producer ask, “Do you want to get married in front of 10 million people?” Of course, the answer was yes!

For the big day, Ken and Shelly boarded a plane with friends and family. The couple was treated to New York City style wedding. Shelly was whisked around the city to pick out any dress she wanted, something she says never would have happened in Grand Rapids!

With Kathie Lee as the matron of honor and Regis as the best man, Shelly and Ken were married February 11, 1993. The ceremony was followed by a lavish reception attended by friends and family.

As their wedding singer, Shelly and Ken chose Peter Yarrow from one of their favorite trios, Peter Paul and Mary. Even the cake was spectacular, which was made by Sylvia Weinstock whose cakes are known as being a top choice among celebrities in New York.

After a wedding day full of luxury, surprises, and stardom, Ken and Shelly honeymooned in the Cayman Islands where they were treated like royalty. Business owners all over the island who had seen Ken and Shelly’s story were eager to pay for their meals and souvenirs. The trip was full of adventures, such as snorkeling and scuba diving. They even went parasailing together!

“It was the most exciting thing that had happened to us, until we had our daughter,” says Shelly.

Today, Ken and Shelly are happily married. Ken is active in handcycling and quad rugby. Shelly serves as the executive director of Ms. Wheelchair America. They continue to enjoy their life together in Grand Rapids with their 13-year-old daughter, Katherine.

Filed under: spinal cord injury

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