Bride-to-be battling cancer faces fight with wedding venue over non-refundable deposit

Owner donates $4K in honor of late brother

INDIANAPOLIS - A bride-to-be battling cancer found herself fighting for her money after asking her wedding venue to return a non-refundable deposit.

Ashley Vinson and her fiance Daniel Norris were planning every detail of their May 18 nuptials until a diagnosis changed everything.

At 22 years old, Vinson says she never thought she'd be without insurance, needing chemotherapy, radiation and speech therapy, and recovering from doctors' removal of a cancerous tumor in her brain.

Now, the young couple says they need $10,000 to protect Vinson's eggs and their chance to be parents.

"I'm struggling, so I really needed that money, you know, that would have been a lot of help," she said.

Vinson and Norris asked for a refund of the $4,000 they paid to reserve Greenwood's Valle Vista Golf Club and Conference Center for their wedding, but the money was non-refundable based on a contract the couple signed.

Vinson's family wouldn't take no for an answer and took the case to Facebook. In minutes, dozens of people rallied in support of the high school sweethearts.  

It wasn’t long before Valle Vista owner Chuck Kern heard about the public clamor, and he said he and his staff were already grappling with what was the right thing to do.

At first they offered to refund half of the money.

"I think I even heard there was a couple of comments (saying), 'Well, they can just rebook that space.' No, we can't. That space will sit open," Kern said.

From his 30 years of experience, Kern said most couples make their wedding plans nine to 18 months in advance, so with the reserved date less than two months away, a refund would mean a loss.

The family-owned company eventually decided to take the loss by donating $4,000 to Vinson’s medical expenses.

The family is making the donation in part to honor Kern’s own brother, who just recently lost his fight with cancer.

The couple still plans to get married at Valle Vista in the future.

"That's where I want to get married, that's where I pictured myself getting married and that's where I've been picturing myself getting married," Vinson said.

Norris said Kern's decision to help them out makes their eventual event at the venue that much more meaningful.

"They gained so much more," he said. "We can come back and say, 'Thank you so much for being so caring and compassionate for us. We're going to come back. We're going to tell our friends about you.'"

 Beyond his monetary contribution, Kern is keeping Vinson in mind and hopes to see her again.

"That would be the ultimate gift if she ends up pulling through this," he said. "And she will. She's young, she's strong. That would be a thrill." 

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