Grace Beahm // The Post and Courier
Bus driver Tanya Davis raises the wheelchair ramp for bride Shalanda Manigault, formerly Shalanda Ellis, after she married Richard Manigault Jr., who is holding their1-year-old daughter Shakara, on Saturday at Eastside Missionary Baptist Church.
It wasn't quite Cinderella's carriage, but not all of us have fairy godmothers. Shalanda Ellis rode a bus to her wedding, and it was just as magical as ever.
Ellis, 32, has been in a wheelchair since she was hospitalized for lupus in 2006, and has been riding a CARTA Tel-A-Ride vehicle almost every day since she was released. She has taken it to doctor's appointments, to the grocery store and to church every Sunday. But on Saturday, Ellis took the best bus ride of her life.
Around 11 a.m. on a beautiful summer day, the bus stopped by Ellis' home in North Charleston and slowly lifted the excited bride-to-be inside to drive her to her wedding at Eastside Missionary Baptist Church.
There, Ellis wed Richard Manigault Jr., 44, who met Ellis in 1997.
"When she got sick it was real rough at the time, and there was a lot of praying, and I don't really like to talk about it so much because it brings tears to my eyes, but you know, this is my baby, this is something that the Lord has put together here," Manigault said after the wedding. "When she got sick I was like her doctor and her nurse and I took care of her totally, 100 percent. We went through some real rough times, but prayer overcomes everything, I believe. God brought us through."
Manigault said it took doctors almost three months to diagnose Ellis with lupus, an autoimmune disease. The disease immobilized Ellis and put her in the intensive care unit. Manigault said if doctors had diagnosed her sooner she would still be walking.
"I see myself coming out of (my chair)" Ellis said. "I've come a long way -- at first I wasn't in a chair, I couldn't really do anything. Therapy helped a lot."
After the ceremony, the newly wed Shalanda Manigault, her husband and their children were picked up by the bus again to be taken to the wedding reception at the Arabian Temple on Rivers Avenue. And, although the Manigaults said they are thankful for the opportunity the service provides, they did say there was a downside to being a "Tel-A-Ride Bride."
The bus was more than 10 minutes late to pick up them for the reception, and Shalanda Manigault said the service had promised it would be prompt on her wedding day.
Also, although the family got a free ride Saturday, Richard Manigault said it cost them $3.50 each to ride on other days.
Theresa Ravenel, who arrived on time in the morning to chauffeur Shalanda to her wedding, said she had transported Ellis for about three years. She said her favorite part of being a Tel-A-Ride driver was being able to help those unable to help themselves.
"Just because they're in a wheelchair doesn't mean they don't need help from others," Ravenel said. "I feel honored to be able to help her in her situation."
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