Dying Wishes: Weddings to Helping Homeless

The bride was dressed in ruffled white and wore a tiara. The groom pledged to be her best friend forever. They exchanged rings, and the lucky North Texas couple swooned as they danced to their favorite song -- "Love Bug" by the Jonas Brothers.

They may be a tender age -- Jayla Cooper is 9 and the groom, Jose Griggs, is 7 -- but their parents were behind them all the way.

For Jayla, who has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia and who, according to her doctors, may only have weeks to live, the "wedding" was less a dream come true than a last wish.

VIDEO: A terminally ill girl gets married in Texas.
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"He is very cute, and I love him," Jayla said of Jose, who has a chronic and more treatable form of leukemia with a strong prognosis of recovery.

"I was so excited and happy," she told ABCNews.com. "It was really fun, and we had dances and did a lot of things."

She met her husband-to-be at a Halloween party while they were both being treated at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Medical Center in Dallas.

Jayla wanted all the fanfare of a wedding -- including 150 guests, floral arrangements and a minister -- even though the ceremony was not legal. It was organized in less than a week and held at Paradise Grove on the shore of Grapeline Lake.

Picture of homeless person and Brenden Foster.
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Every Girl Dreams About Her Wedding

"I had never heard of a wedding before," said a Children's Medical Center spokesman. "We hear a lot of Disney Worlds, or they want to sit in the cockpit of an airplane and things that tickle a kid. It makes perfect sense. What little girl doesn't dream about her wedding day?"

Some of Jayla's peers at the cancer center had asked for a horse, a puppy, a camping van, "like the one where you go and drive and sleep in."

Experts say that granting a dying wish can help not only the child deal with the trauma, but the family, as well.

"Children take their direction from their parents and their wishes," said psychologist Charles Figley, director of the Psychological Stress Research Program at Florida State University.

"It's the system that's dying, not only the child," he told ABCNews.com. "It's like a giant spider web and everyone connects and interacts. If a family believes it's a good idea, it's wonderful for everyone, not just the child."

While Jayla's wish may have been a first for the hospital, it is not the first time such a wish had ever been requested.

In 2006, Nicole Hastings, a 17-year-old terminally ill patient in Cleveland requested a commitment ceremony with her boyfriend, according to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Like Jayla's, there were no legal papers.

All Wishes Typically Granted

Make-a-Wish spokesman Brent Goodrich noted that the local chapter was careful to determine whether the wish recipient and the boyfriend were fine with what would unfold.

"As long as the wish is something within the realm of reason and it's not something that would be potentially controversial, then it's typically granted," Goodrich told ABCNews.com.

He noted that 80 percent of all children the organization helps have surviving medical conditions. Determining whether a wish is feasible is often a decision left to local chapters.

"We don't have caps on wish costs or anything of that nature -- it's up to our individual chapters to determine what they think is a reasonable cost on a wish. It's extraordinary circumstances where we wouldn't grant a wish because of cost."

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