Miracle marriage - American couple turn their wedding into a gift-giving exercise for needy Jamaican children
Damian Marley's Count Your Blessings was an inspiration for American couple Mick and Lindsay Guymon, who turned their wedding celebration into gift-giving to more than 150 Jamaican children recently.
The couple, who exchanged vows at Riu Montego Bay after five years of dating, opted for gifts of medication, vitamins, clothing, books, iPads, toys and even a water purification instrument, from the 36 guests who travelled from all over the world to witness their nuptials.
The gifts were donated to the Hammersmith Preparatory School in Bounty Hall, Trelawny.
The Guymons said they selected Jamaica based on the fact that the last time they visited the country, the people had so little, yet were so happy.
"We have gone to many other islands, but we don't see the same type of friendliness. For instance, the people are very cold in The Bahamas," Mick Guymon told The Sunday Gleaner.
He said each time he comes to Jamaica he goes on a series of excursions, discovering the country.
"We go to Croydon in the Mountains, Blue Hole, and have met a lot of locals, whose average income is shocking. Some people are earning US$57 per week, yet remain happy," said Mick.
He declared that Jamaicans are gracious and when he and Lindsay became engaged, the idea came to mind to give to some of the communities.
Their friends of varied professions, including a medical doctor, a ship captain, and a marine biologist, who attended the wedding, travelled from London, India, California, Utah, Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida.
"When our invitations went out, we stated no gifts, instead bring something to donate or leave what you bring," said Lindsay.
Before coming to Jamaica, the couple enquired about various projects they could assist with, and the Hammersmith School was recommended by the weddings department at the hotel.
"They were surprised that we wanted to do this," she added.
Moved by the gesture, Riu's director of sales, Angella Bennett, said it was easy for the resort to assist with this selfless project. "Once they expressed interest in finding a community to donate to, we assisted in finding a school in need."
Riu arranged transportation of the group and their goods, facilitating the meet-and-greet.
The Guymons and their friends brought so many gifts, Bennett says she plans to give a girls' home in Granville, St James, some of them.
The children at Hammersmith were gracious for the offering of goodwill and reciprocated by putting on a concert for the couple and their friends.
"What they did brought tears to our eyes. So much talent concentrated in one area. We were pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of joy. What was expected to be a one-hour visit turned into three hours," said Mick.
The couple currently reside in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, and they are satisfied that the students at Hammersmith and the staff at Riu made their wedding in Jamaica a dream come true.