Warm Hearts, Cold Hands at Wedding

By Stan Friedman

LEAD, SD (February 4, 2014) — Covenant minister Jeff Schirle was not comfortable performing a wedding here last Wednesday.

“It was seven degrees,” he said. “Our fingers were freezing.” The wedding was outdoors on a ski slope.

He was elated to perform the wedding, however. The couple, Jesse Shirek and Sherry DeFrancesco, are blind and had met during a 2010 event sponsored by a nonprofit he works with, Black Hills Ski for Light, which provides cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities for the visually and physically challenged.

After meeting in 2010, Jesse and Sherry went their separate ways. He returned home to Fargo, North Dakota, and she to New York.

The couple stayed in touch by phone and online. They met again at another Ski for Light event in 2011.

Sherry told a local news outlet, “It is an amazing connection with Jesse, but it’s also an amazing connection with all of these people here at Ski for Light. They are amazing, and they are my extended family.”

Everyone skied during the morning of the wedding, said Schirle, who has volunteered with the organization since 2007. Although he lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois, Schirle started with Black Hills Ski for Light at the suggestion of a friend.

Schirle is not officially the chaplain for the organization, but many people come to him for advice, he said, adding he did premarital counseling for the couple by phone.

A 2009 Covenant News Service story highlighted Schirle’s work with the nonprofit.

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