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64 years of memories: Las Vegas couple renews their vows during Alzheimer's fight

For Jane and Don Holkestad, 64 years of marriage hasn't come without its challenges. Today they're fighting Alzheimer's together. 6/15/2016 [Dominick Lee/KSNV]

A walk down the aisle. A white dress. The familiar melody played on an organ. The memory of a beloved wedding day is hard to erase. But what if an illness took those unforgettable moments and placed them in the dark?

For Jane and Don Holkestad, 64 years of marriage hasn't come without its challenges. Today they're fighting Alzheimer's together.

"They've overcome a lot of very devastating adversities in their marriage and having lasted 64 years is a tremendous testimony of their ability to love one another to stay dedicated to one another," said Adam Frazier, Las Vegas chapter president of Wish Upon a Wedding.

The Holkestads haven't accepted the diagnosis as the end, instead, they're fighting through volunteerism. Both are dedicated volunteers of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, and both are dedicated to each other.

"You've lived the vows for better for worse, in sickness and in health," said David Watts, Director of the Keeping Memory Alive Center.

On Wednesday, the Holkestads reaffirmed their commitment to each other during a vow renewal ceremony put on for them by the Wish Upon a Wedding nonprofit organization at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center.

"Every event is geared towards saving lives and finding cures for these diseases," said Watts.

Wish Upon a Wedding serves couples who are facing serious illness or life-altering circumstances.

"What we do is find couples in our community who are facing either a terminal illness or some kind of life altering circumstance. And we rally local wedding professionals to put on a free wedding for them," said Fraizer.

Working alongside the Keep Memory Alive Center, the goal was to help the couple celebrate the milestone with friends and family creating new memories as older memories fade. The venue was designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry. According to their biography, all of the organization's proceeds go to the research, treatment and clinical studies of neurological diseases at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

"For Jane and Don, we know Alzheimer's will take his life. We wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to celebrate with his family and his friends while he still had the ability to remember these memories and important people," said Fraizer.

For Jane and Don, the moment was about presenting and preserving their love for one another.

"You've lived the vows for better for worse, in sickness and in health. You are no stranger to heartache, but you have faced it with dignity and grace," said Watts. "By the authority vested in me. It is a privilege and a blessing to once again pronounce you husband and wife. Don, will you kiss your beautiful wife?"

With tears in their eyes, the couple sealed their promise with a kiss.

To learn more about the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, click here.

For more information about the Keeping Memory Alive Event Center, click here.

To work with the Wish Upon a Wedding organization, click here.


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