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Tyler and Ashley: Tyler Handles Coke Can Just Fine

9:45 PM, Jun 23, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Hot and thirsty? Pop open a diet Coke.  No giant effort, right?

Well, it isn't if you have two arms and two hands. 

And, actually, it isn't even if you don't and you're Tyler Southern.

Gallery: Tyler Southern pictures

The problem is that his fiancee, Ashley Statti, isn't quite so sure she approves of Tyler's method.   She says she always tries to open it for Tyler if she's nearby. 

She wants to protect his teeth.

Gallery: Tyler and Ashley - Ashley shower pictures

Tyler, however, just chuckles about every challenge.  He says joking around is a great way to tackle the bad stuff in life.

And he manages to make everyone around him laugh just when you might think the atmosphere would be awkward.

Tyler and Ashley are back in Jacksonville now from Walter Reed in Washington.  Their wedding is just about two weeks away.

More donations are coming in to Operation Thumbs Up, our First Coast News project to help throw the couple a wedding and build them a new home.

Tyler, a marine, stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost three limbs.

Dozens of photographers offered their services for the wedding at no cost.  A third photographer has now been chosen to join the team.

Chris Condon is a professional photographer and photojournalist for the PGA Tour.  He says on any given day during a golf tournament he takes between 500 and a 1000 pictures.

Condon says his father served in the military and he was moved seeing Tyler's story.  He encourages others to step up and help, as well.

His plan is to use several cameras at the wedding on July 9, all fired by remote control.  His goal is to capture the moments as if he were "the fly on the wall."

Condon says so often the bride is the focus, but he wants to document Tyler's experience during the wedding events.

Although he travels many months of the year, Condon says he wanted to make sure he fit Tyler's wedding into his schedule.  Condon is that impressed with the sacrifices and attitude of the young marine.

Also joining Operation Thumbs Up is cake decorator Tamatha Cain.  Her Choux Bakery (pronounced Chew, for the French word) is located in Avondale and is the winner of multiple awards.

Cain says, "I'm a military brat."  She says she admires Tyler's service and she's honored to design his groom's cake. 

She knows Tyler is a Baltimore Ravens fan, but the cake design is still a secret.  Tyler has just said he would like it "immersed" in chocolate. 

Cain has designed creative cakes from a Yoda to a briefcase to a log cabin.  She also does fancy creations inspired by European traditions.


First Coast News

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