Burn victims marry at Galveston fire station

October 22, 2010 8:35:46 PM PDT
This weekend, hundreds of burn victims are in Galveston for the annual World Burn Congress. It's a forum for survivors to share stories and encourage each other through the long road of recovery. But, for one couple it's also the backdrop for one of the biggest days of their lives.

At Station 5 on Galveston Island, it was a union that was just meant to be. It's one that has its roots in unspeakable tragedy but is now on display to inspire.

The bride and groom are burn survivors. Melisa Schoeppler got her scars after she was doused with gas by a former lover. Erin Mounsey got his from a freak chemical accident.

The two separate tragedies would later come to bond these souls in ways few would understand.

"Do you know the devastation of a burn injury?" Mounsey asked. "It's obvious, physically, but what goes on there? Over two months in a medically induced coma, over seven months in the hospital."

Schoeppler and Mounsey met five years ago while attending the World Burn Congress in Baltimore, an annual conference for burn survivors.

Within days of that meeting, the couple who thought they'd never find true love, found themselves falling deeper than ever.

"For me, it was just this turning point in my life to discover that somebody could love me, and not only that, but it was the best love I ever imagined," Schoeppler said.

And it's that love that brought them to Station 5 in Galveston Island, where they exchanged vows before their family and other burn survivors. They held their ceremony there to honor the people who saved their lives.

"Many times as firefighters, we wonder what we could have done better, what we could've done faster, and how we could have had an impact in their lives, when in reality, this is the impact we've made in their lives," Galveston Fire Chief Jeff Smith said.

A marriage that was born of pain is now a huge happiness for the whole world to see.

"This is truly, truly a dream come true," Schoeppler said. "I am blessed."

And the occasion doesn't end there. The couple is already planning their honeymoon, thanks to a generous friend; they'll be spending it on a Caribbean cruise early next year.

The story of how the couple is just one of many inspiring stories at the burn conference.

Another one is of six-year-old Katherine Koonce, who was burned in the fire at Brennan's Restaurant in Houston's midtown.


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