Willie and Carol Fowler were prepared to lose their deposits. Their daughter canceled her Georgia wedding with just 40 days' notice, and the venue, food, and entertainment were already paid for. Then Willie had "a vision," his wife tells ABC News. "I was in the process of canceling out the venue and he said, 'No, what we'll do is donate it to Hosea Feed the Hungry.'" Their daughter had volunteered for the organization, which helps homeless people in the Atlanta area, when she was younger. And that's how, on Sept. 15, the Fowler Family Celebration of Love was born. Two hundred guests were bused to Villa Christina for a four-course meal complete with coconut shrimp and salmon (the 50 kids in attendance got chicken fingers). The family hopes to get sponsors and make it an annual event, Carol tells WBUR.
A rep for Hosea Feed the Hungry said the nonprofit initially thought the Fowlers were pulling their leg: "It's a very creme de la creme wedding venue, so to say that you're going to host 200 homeless individuals at Villa Christina—it sounds like a prank call." The Fowlers' daughter attended the event, and her dad says it was a "bittersweet but rewarding" experience; her mom tells Today Tamara found it "surreal but incredibly rewarding." Carol has this advice: "If you have canceled an event, do not walk away. Pick up the phone and call your favorite charity and offer it to them. We're regular, working people and anybody can do this. This is not star stuff." (In Boston, a homeless man who did a very good deed is being handsomely rewarded.)