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Local soldier gets special wedding with help of Operation Open Arms

By Staff | Apr 14, 2009

Over the holiday weekend, local serviceman Cpl. Michael Goodwin and Brittany Dickens got married in a special service — made even more special with the support of Operation Open Arms.
Operation Open Arms is a nonprofit organization started in 2005 on Pine Island to work with local businesses, associations and individuals to support the troops. It helps with discounts and donations for soldiers on leave from Iraq and Afghanistan in Cape Coral, Pine Island and the Fort Myers area.
In this case, the organization arranged for services from music to flowers to a honeymoon getaway to give the couple a beautiful wedding.
“A big thanks to everyone who made this couple’s dreams come true,” said the groom’s mom, Jo Goodwin. “I was moved to know there were so many people in this town, especially during these poor economic times, that wanted to help a young Marine as a thank you for his service to our fine country.”
She said she and her husband, Bill, wanted to thank the businesses for their time and services.
They included Juke Box Hero, D’Vine Limo Service, Ruth Messmer Florist, Winn-Dixie, Yum-Yum Cakes, DiamondHead Beach Resort and friends and family. Other supporters that donated or discounted their services during the newlyweds’ stay in Fort Myers were Rush’s Charters, Miracle Baseball, Limousine Shuttle Service and The Broadway Palm Dinner Theater.
Chris Cammarota, owner of Cape Coral-based Juke Box Hero, is a former military man, serving four years in the Navy. He was happy to donate music services for the day.
“This is the right thing to do, someone needs to take care of these guys,” Cammarota said. “It’s not going to hurt me to donate a few hours of my time and step up to the plate for the right cause.”
Dr. Frank Durrelli, an evangelist for the Seventh Baptist Contention, who officiated the ceremony, agreed.
“I think this is wonderful,” he said. “I’m retired military, and anytime anyone can they should donate to the military. That’s what it should be.”
Goodwin said he was touched by the outpouring.
“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “Sometimes you forget, being over there, how Americans are.”
Discussing his bride, he said, “She’s a beautiful lady — she found me — and it was love at first sight.”
Goodwin lived in North Fort Myers from the age of 11 and graduated from Cape Coral High. During high school he was enrolled in the Marine Corps DEP Program.
Dickens is from Tustin, Calif.
Goodwin was sent to Twentynine Palms, Calif., said his mom.
“Right before his deployment, he got down on one knee at the place they had their first dance, a country bar and dance club in San Bernadino called the Branding Iron. With the mike in one hand and the ring in another, he asked his best friend Brittany to marry him. She said yes and a few weeks later they said their goodbye’s as he headed to Iraq,” Jo Goodwin said.
He returned from Iraq in late March, and arrived here for the wedding the first week of April. The ceremony was held at Sabal Springs Golf & Racquet Club on Saturday.
Learn about Operation Open Arms at: operationopenarms.com.