OHIO (KFDX/KJTL) — How far would you go to be there for your child? One Ohio father fought through multiple operations and rehab stints to escort his daughter down the aisle.
Randi Voelkel: Everyone loved bob, everybody. I mean he was just the nicest person in the whole world.
Everybody certainly includes Randi who after dating Bob for just 6 weeks, agreed to marry him.
Wife, Randi Voelkel, says, “this past May we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.”
It also includes Bob and Randi’s daughter Gina- a true daddy’s little girl
Daughter Gina Voelker says, “oh yeah! I was. Anything I wanted, kind of got a lot of it.”
Randi says, “well she’s our only child. They were two peas in a pod. He was there for her whenever she needed because she was his little girl.”
But as much as everyone loved bob his body, unfortunately, didn’t.
Randi says, “Bob was the nicest guy in the whole world, with the worst health genes.”
Bob’s health issues started with rheumatoid arthritis then primary sclerosing cholangitis. He started getting a lot of infections. Heart blockage septic and needed a liver. And despite his objections, daddy’s little girl stepped in.
Gina: “oh yeah I jumped at it they had mentioned living donor, I was like ‘I’ll do it’ he’s like ‘no you won’t’ I said ‘yes I will'”
Randi: “She said dad, you want my liver you want my liver?’ he’s like ‘no fathers aren’t supposed to put their daughter through that’ and she was a match.”
Once bob finally agreed to accept Gina’s liver, he came here to the Cleveland Clinic for the operation a place he became all too familiar with. Over the course of the next year, he had 3 operations and 5 stints in rehab and he did it all with one date in mind.
Dr. Jeff Thompson at Cleveland Clinic Rehabilitation Hospital, says, “his daughter Gina, her plan was to be married in August and through the entire course of his rehabilitation he knew that he wanted to be there and walk her down that aisle and dance with her.”
Through a kidney failure and another transplant, a broken hip and more infections, Bob just kept fighting
Randi: “he was practicing a wheelchair dance cause he wasn’t strong enough to stand. Even though he had bad genes he had a very strong constitution.”
Gina: “he was a fighter, he was going to do whatever he could to have that moment and to make it special and to be there for that. He really did work hard.”
When the wedding day finally arrived all of Bob’s work, was about to pay off.
Dr. Thompson says, “when you see someone go through literally a hundred days of rehab with one goal, it proves to me, anything’s possible.”
Gina says, “I don’t think that I’ve ever seen him have that much fun before. He was out there talking to people, he was dancing, he had a great time. I’m just sort of glad that we could give him one last party, at the end.”
Sometimes in life, it’s just one thing people are holding on to. One thing, driving someone to persevere through it all. For bob Voekel, it was being there to give his little girl away.
Randi: “he wheeled her down the aisle, he danced the dance with her, he had an amazing time all night. He came home and he passed away 34 hours later. He did everything that he wanted to do. “
Gina: “it was a terrible feeling. We were actually on our honeymoon at the time. We were there for a total of 14 hours before we had to come home, but I’m glad that he got to do everything that he wanted to do.”
Everybody loved Bob and Bob loved everyone else but what he felt toward his daughter Gina, was something even more.
Gina says, “it’s amazing that he held on and wanted to hold on long enough to give me that moment. I’m always going to be daddy’s little girl.”