Justin Lansford and Carol Balmes were recently married in Largo, Florida. The high school sweethearts had a beautiful ceremony — but it was their best man who stole the show.
While deployed in Afghanistan, Lansford’s truck was struck with an IED. The vehicle flipped over and the injuries he endured resulted in the amputation of his left leg.
It was when he was recovering at Walter Reade that he was matched up with a four-legged companion who would forever change his life: a dog named Gabe.
Through the Warrior Canine Connection project, which connects veterans with PTSD to support dogs, Justin was able to acclimate to his new life with Gabe by his side as a service dog.
Thus, it comes as no shock to see that Justin chose Gabe to be his best man.
Gabe walking down the aisle isn’t just a “cute” spectacle, it’s symbolic of Justin’s service, his hurdles, his journey and how far he has come.
See more of Justin, Carol and Gabe’s story below!ABC NewsGMA
Justin Lansford and Carol Balmes looked like they were having an ordinary wedding: a celebration of a couple’s love and commitment to one another.
However, there was one special addition to the wedding party that stood out from the rest.
Justin’s best man was his dog, Gabe. Justin was matched with Gabe years ago through the Warrior Canine Connection. The organization connects veterans dealing with post traumatic stress disorder with support animals.
“I was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and we were in eastern Afghanistan in early 2012,” Justin told ABC. “We struck an IED and it flipped my truck completely. I had bilaterally severed femurs which resulted in the amputation of my left leg.”
“The less I use my wheelchair, the more I need his help in smaller tasks and the more he is there. It has been very comforting to know that,” he said. “I have a prosthetic lubricant to slide my leg into place in the morning and he can retrieve that,” he said.
“He helps me with one thing to the next. I can use him as a stable surface to lean on, as I get to and from the ground,” Lansford said. “If I fall, he’ll come up running next to me and I can use him to push off of to get up off the ground.”
It looks like Justin, Carol, and Gabe are in store for some beautiful new beginnings!
See more of Justin and Gabe’s beautiful bond in the video below!
Please SHARE to wish Carol, Justin, and Gabe the best of luck!