A DESPERATE dad wants to marry his sweetheart before an incurable disease leaves him unable to walk down the aisle.
Hartlepool man Shane Beckenkrager, 26, found out last year he had a form of hypermobility called Ehlers-Danlos Symdrome, a degenerative condition that affects one in 15,000 people.
It means his joints can dislocate at any time and his shoulder has come out of its socket seven times since the diagnosis.
But there’s more bleak news. Shane has since been told that his condition may also be hereditary – and that means 14-month-old daughter Sakura may have it.
Shane and fiancee Jessica Bell, 22, won’t know for sure until they see a specialist next month.
In the meantime, though, Shane, of Brunel Close, Hartlepool, is hoping to bring joy into his family’s life by winning the Bride of the Year competition, run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography.
“It is my way of saying thank you for everything Jessica has done,” said Shane, who once studied to be an Army mechanic until his condition was diagnosed.
Now he needs ankle braces because, without them, his ankles will sprain every time he walks on them.
“It doesn’t matter what I am doing. It could be something simple but it causes my joints to dislocate.”
He said Jessica had been a godsend. The couple had lived in her hometown of Lincoln until Shane was diagnosed. She sacrificed everything to move back to Shane’s birthplace with him.
“I was told by my doctors that my hypermobility was not only incurable but degenerative,” said Shane.
The couple have been through a nightmare few years since they first got together in September 2009.
Shane explained: “In 2010 our lives were torn apart when Jessica suffered an ectopic pregnancy with our first child together.
“She had to be rushed into hospital for life-saving surgery which sadly led to the loss of our child.
“Shortly after, Jessica’s best friend passed away after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, leaving her lower than ever. Things just seemed to get worse.”
Then came Shane’s own health problems, which showed he was suffering from a genetic disorder called hypermobility, later diagnosed as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. But good news followed when Jessica found out she was pregnant.
Shane admitted: “Despite it being one of the happiest moments of our lives we both felt sick to our stomachs praying that this time we would get to see our baby.
“In October 2011 Jessica gave birth to our daughter and we were ecstatic. I have never been so proud in my life (of my new daughter but more so of Jessica for making someone so perfect).”
But he added: “After moving to Hartlepool in March last year, I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos and I am currently waiting on visits to a geneticist in March to see what impact this will have not only to my life but possibly to my daughter’s too.
“Since the move north my health continues to deteriorate and at present I can’t even climb the stairs to bed every night. It is just too much to manage.
“Jessica helps me so much that I do not know what I would do without her. She has sacrificed everything for me – her home town, home, family, friends, health, social life – I could go on and on.
“I just want to give her something back and I know she is desperate to get married.
“I want to reward her for all she has done for me and give her her dream now rather than later.
“I know inevitably that in time I may not be able to walk her down the aisle as I would already struggle to do it now and I’m only 26.”
l To enter, send the Mail a letter or email explaining who you are and why you deserve to win. Include as much detail as you can about yourself and your partner, how you met and why you should be chosen.
Send your entries to: Chris Cordner, Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.