RIVERVIEW — Over the summer ABC Action News first told you about a Riverview event hall that wanted to thank our heroes in the health care industry by giving away 30 wedding dresses to brides-to-be. This week those first responders had the opportunity to pick out their dresses.
“I just feel like it was mine, like that was supposed to be my dress,” said nurse Lizette Maradiaga. “To be gifted a wedding dress is something that doesn’t happen every day.”
It’s been a long time since Maradiaga has felt like a princess. She’s been a nurse on the front lines at Brandon Regional Hospital throughout the pandemic.
“People needed me, if I’m not here who is going to care for them, who is going to give them the treatment, the care they need,” said Maradiaga.
Lizette wasn’t only caring for patients at work, but also at home, as her mother battled cancer.
“It’s very challenging because you aren’t just protecting yourself you are protecting your whole household,” said Maradiaga.
“My daughter, she would come crying, and I would not even ask why, and then eventually she would say, ‘we lost one, we lost two mom,’” said mother Leticia Gonzalez.
With so much happening, the mother of two said the last thing on her mind was planning a wedding. So it came as a shock when she found out her own co-workers nominated her to receive a free wedding dress courtesy of The Regent.
“It was a weight off my shoulder,” said Maradiaga. “For them to think of nominating me, I was so honored, they are the best, they are truly family and they know this.”
Lizette said the best part about this whole experience is getting to pick out her wedding dress with her mom.
“So having her here by my side was amazing, and of course with everything we are going through, in May I lost my grandmother, somebody I thought would have been in the room with me picking out this dress,” said Maradiaga.
Fortunately, her mother is now in remission. Gonzalez said it’s about time the rest of Tampa Bay learns what her family has known all along when it comes to her daughter.
“They work so hard, you see all the nurses, it made me feel like people are really appreciating all the sacrifices people are doing,” said Gonzalez.
The Regent is still accepting nominations and dress donations. For more information go to www.theregentfl.com.