Five-year-old Sophia Chiappalone has gone through more medical procedures than many adults. Born with a heart defect, the preschooler has, so far, endured three open-heart surgeries with another one scheduled for mid-November. But before that procedure takes place, she had made a wish to her mom, Kristy Somerset-Chiappalone—the little girl wanted to marry her childhood sweetheart, 6-year-old Hunter Laferriere.
Kristy didn’t keep this dream a secret. She told Hunter’s mom, Tracy, who then told her son, who accepted the girl's roundabout proposal. “He'd do anything to make her happy,” Tracy explained. “She always agrees to play Mario with him, so I think he'd happily marry her. They have a chemistry that's magnetic, it's adorable to watch.”
To make Sophia’s dream a reality, Tracy got her best friend and photographer, Marisa Balletti-Lavoie of Sassy Mouth Photography, to capture the special event. The mock nuptial has all the trappings of a grown-up wedding photo shoot; Sophia is wearing a beautiful gown and carrying a bouquet of fresh flowers, and the kids pose together like a couple in love, exchanging kisses on the cheek. But, Marisa didn't forget their age and also shows them playing on a playground and throwing leaves at one another.
Sophia has had to fight for her life from the day she was born. She has a genetic defect where there's no connection between her heart and pulmonary arteries, which ensures that blood flows to the lungs. Just one day after she was born, she had open-heart surgery; the procedure is something she’ll have to have throughout her life.
The photo shoot was bittersweet for Sophia’s mom. “I teared up watching her get all dressed up,” Kristy recalled. “I was terrified once again, like so many other milestones and events, that this may be the only time I see my baby in a wedding dress, that her miracles and time would run out before that day.”
Sophia's family is currently raising money for her past and future treatments via GoFundMe.