3-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Is Flower Girl at Bone Marrow Donor's Wedding: 'It Was Very Special'
On July, 29, 2016, Hayden Ryals helped save 2-year-old Skye Savren-McCormick’s life with a bone marrow transplant. Now, two years later, Ryals and Skye teamed up for another special day: Ryals’ wedding.
On June 9, little Skye served as the flower girl as Ryals, 26, wed Adrian Ryals in Hartford, Alabama. Talia Savren-McCormick and her husband Todd set off on the long journey from their Ventura, California home to Alabama just two days before the ceremony where, Savren-McCormick says Skye enjoyed every moment.
“It was so sweet and she was really excited to do it. I put her one the ground and she took one step and then took a giant handful of flowers and tossed them on the ground,” Savren-McCormick tells PEOPLE of now-3-year-old Skye. “It was very heartwarming. We’re so grateful to Hayden, she saved Skye’s life. She was really cute.”
In March 2016, doctors diagnosed Skye with lymphoma and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia — a rare cancer that only affects one in one million children. Months later in July, she was matched with Ryals for first bone marrow transplant. And Savren-McCormick says the families have stayed in touch ever since.
“When Skye turned 3 in March, Hayden sent her a birthday present. And in the birthday card there was a wedding invitation,” the mom recalls. “It said in the card, ‘In a perfect world you guys could come out and I would love Skye to be my flower girl.’ We thought it was really sweet. It was very special.”
Savren-McCormick and Todd were initially wary of taking Skye such a far distance with her illness. But when doctors gave the family the okay, both Skye and Ryals were excited.
“We started booking our flight and hotel and we got Skye’s flower girl dress!” Savren-McCormick says. “She had never been on an airplane before … she loved it. Skye looked at dresses and Skye ultimately liked the one she wore the best. She picks her own clothes everyday, she’s very opinionated on what she wears.”
Photos from the event showed Skye performing her flower girl duties, and posing for photos with the bridal party. The little girl sported a cream-colored dress with a blue ribbon around her waist.
“It was very humbling and surreal. Everyone knew who she was because the town is so small,” Savren-McCormick tells PEOPLE of her daughter. “It was amazing. I never imagined that we would be here. I was just so proud of [Skye] after how much she’s been through and how far she’s come. The fact that we were able to do this was just amazing.”
Doctors didn’t expect Skye to survive the two forms of cancer when she was diagnosed just months after her birth. Savren-McCormick previously told PEOPLE that doctors gave the little girl just a 10 percent chance of survival.
“These words were like a hydrogen bomb had just been dropped in our laps, with the smiling face of your own child,” she previously told PEOPLE. “As parents, we decided we had to keep fighting and Skye would tell us when or if she was done.”
Skye required blood and platelet transfusions — often on a daily basis — and underwent three bone-marrow transplants, surgery to remove her oversized spleen and several rounds of chemotherapy for the cancers, hospital officials say. She had received 77 units of blood and platelets during a 10-month stay at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.
Now, Savren-McCormick says Skye is doing miraculously well, and she looks forward to all the memories she and Ryals will share.
“I always say they’re smitten for each other, they’re just in love. I could feel the love between the two of them. Hayden was holding Skye and Skye sat on her lap almost the entire time. They were jut in their own little world together. They have a special bond,” she says.
“It’s a really sweet connection. [Skye] loves looking at pictures of [the wedding] and she always tells people she was the flower girl. She’s very proud. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a bone marrow recipient being in their donor’s wedding. I thought that was very special. I can’t wait to see Skye grow up and continue to have that relationship with Hayden.”