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Exchanging vows on the goal line

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
There’s going to be a special on-ice ceremony before the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers face off Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum. As opposed to hits and goals, the two sides on the ice will exchange vows, as Donna Levato and Weldon Malone will be married on the Coliseum ice.

“I have nothing to offer my husband-to-be, but my love, honesty, trust and everything else,” Levato said of her fiancé, a Seaford native and lifelong Islanders fan. “He’s been a great parent to my kids. We are just starting our life over and I can’t think of a better place to do it. That’s the reason I contacted the New York Islanders.”
Donna Levato and Weldon Malone, the happy couple, before their marriage on the Coliseum ice.

Levato and Malone’s romance didn’t come without adversity. Malone suffers from a degenerative bone disease and has to have surgery to remove a piece of his skull to relieve pressure off his brain and spinal cord. The couple is well versed on the risks associated with a surgery so close to the brain and spinal chord.

“It’s nerve-racking,” Malone said. “I’m nervous of course. I’m keeping positive, but it’s the what-if’s.”

The couple has been engaged for over a year, but with surgery scheduled for mid-April and the Islanders season winding down, timing became a factor. Levato didn’t have the funds for a lavish ceremony, but on a whim reached out to the Islanders and the Long Island community to help set up the wedding. She surprised Malone with the one-of-a-kind setting: on the ice where their favorite team plays.

“We are both Islanders fans and I think it would be a great boost of spirit to get married on the ice,” she said. “He was totally ecstatic.”

Malone used to attend Islanders games, car shows and concerts as a kid and calls it a special place near to his heart.
He’s been a great parent to my kids. We are just starting our life over and I can’t think of a better place to do it. - Donna Levato

“I have a lot of memories there,” he said, citing game six of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals as one of them. “It’s always been a special place and I have happy childhood memories there.”

While the Coliseum will provide the backdrop for the nuptuials, it took an effort from the whole community to make the wedding happen. Once word got out about their situation, tuxedos, dresses, flowers, hair, makeup, a limousine and cake were all donated from local businesses. The couple wasn’t planning a honeymoon due to budget constraints, but Gurney’s Inn in Montauk offered them a room for the weekend.

“I really appreciate everything that everyone has done,” Levato said. “Without them doing everything for us, they would not make this happy moment and good memories that will give my fiancé the good spirit that he needs for the surgery.”
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