Couple to wed at rehab after mom is paralyzed in February fall

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. — An engaged Idaho couple is scrapping their wedding plans to get married at the Boston-area rehab where the groom’s paralyzed mother is being treated.

Steven Vugrin and Heather Meeks called Steven’s mother, Margaret, to share the much-needed joy during the family’s most challenging time. Steven’s sister, Maria Citrin, recorded her parents’ emotional reaction on her phone.

“When you’re stuck in a hospital bed most of the time and can’t move your arms and legs, it gets very difficult. But that they called us and told us this great news, I could fly,” said Margaret Vugrin via Zoom Monday. “I was in total shock that they would move their wedding 3,000 miles just to be with us.”

“We were astounded. I mean, that’s such a big event and sign of respect for parents that you don’t see these days,” her husband Davor said of his son and future daughter-in-law’s decision. “There are some families that fall apart. Our family sticks together, and we fight together.”

Margaret Vugrin, 72, flew into Boston from her Lubbock, Texas, home in February to care for her grandchildren as her daughter, a Boston schoolteacher, was undergoing hamstring surgery. During her stay, she suffered a devastating spinal cord injury to her C-3 to C-5 vertebrae after falling down a set of stairs.

“I’m basically paralyzed at the moment from the chest down,” Margaret said. “It’s going to take a lot, but I have a super support team and cheerleaders in my family and our friends.”

Margaret was rushed into surgery just 4.5 hours after her fall, later transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown where she is working hard to regain her strength.

The dedicated staff are not only helping her in her recovery but also coordinating wedding details.

“They have been amazing in trying to help us bring this together, because they have all this expertise around the spinal cord and it’s really helping Mom make progress,” Maria said. “But the other piece is the awareness of how much your emotional health impacts your physical health. And knowing that if they can find ways to bring their patients joy and uplift their spirits the difference it makes.”

The couple will exchange vows next Wednesday with eight guests due to COVID-19 protocols. The hospital has offered its garden and a balcony for the nuptials.

“It’s very important to me. It’s my parents,” Steven said of the decision to move the wedding from Boise. “We were talking about it, realizing that we don’t know when Mom would be able to make it out here, and Heather said, ‘Well, why don’t we just go there?’”

“The process itself is a little challenging,” Meeks said of the logistics of the wedding. “It’s going to be worth it… We’re super excited to see everybody and have the family be part of our day.”

Complete strangers have connected with Maria in a local parents’ group on Facebook, offering to donate items and entertainment for the wedding, from linens to live music from a pianist or cellist. A rabbi is donating his time to officiate a non-denominational ceremony.

Meanwhile, family members have started a GoFundMe account to cover Margaret’s medical expenses, accessible devices and a motorized wheelchair, among other future needs.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW