PEABODY (CBS) – High School sweethearts are about to get the wedding they have always wanted. The pair won a contest put on by a Peabody clothing store. Making the story even more dramatic, the groom-to-be says he decided to propose to his longtime girlfriend after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

It was a moment the Gloucester couple truly didn’t see coming. The apparel store “The Ultimate” surprised bride-to-be Leah Palazola and her fiancé Paul Russo with the free wedding Tuesday night. The pair entered the giveaway after Paul’s mother saw a story about it on WBZ-TV.

couple Couple Wins Free Wedding Contest After Life Changing Diagnosis

Paul Russo and Leah Palazola (WBZ-TV)

“To be able to win this contest, we’re so grateful, it helps me at least give her the wedding that she deserves,” said Paul Russo.

Owners of “The Ultimate” chose Leah and Paul out of hundreds of submissions.

“Paul and Leah’s story is just unbelievable. Unbelievable,” said Heather Siegal.

Leah and Paul dated briefly in high school but it took a life-changing diagnosis for Paul to realize Leah was the one.

“Two weeks before my 24th birthday, I was diagnosed with brain cancer,” Paul said. “It kind of put my whole life in perspective.”

leah Couple Wins Free Wedding Contest After Life Changing Diagnosis

Leah Palazola and her fiancé Paul Russo (WBZ-TV)

Leah stuck by his side at every doctor’s visit and chemo session. Putting the words “in sickness, and in health” to the test.

“It’s never going to go away. He’s going to live with it for the rest of his life, but we hope to make that as long as possible,” Leah said.

For now, the couple is looking forward to the future and of course, planning the wedding that almost didn’t happen.

“I see this cancer as a blessing, not a curse because it has brought me back to her,” Paul said.

The wedding will be in July in a beautiful rustic barn in Topsfield. The couple also won a free honeymoon to the “Happiest Place on Earth” — Disney World.

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