INDIANAPOLIS — A school bus pulled up in front of the manicured landscaping of the Ritz Charles in Carmel on Saturday. It was a sunny, beautiful day for a wedding.
About a dozen homeless veterans from the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation stepped off the bus. Sarah Cummins, in a jeweled sleeveless peplum top and pastel pants, cheerfully greeted and welcomed them to the reception in the glass house, one of the many Pinterest-picture-perfect spots at the Ritz.
“Thank you for having us,” one of the veterans said, standing near a stunning tiered fountain. “It means more than you know.”
This was supposed to be Cummins’ wedding day.
But after the 25-year-old Purdue University pharmacy student and her fiance, Logan Araujo, canceled their $30,000 wedding a week ago for undisclosed reasons, the two were left with the non-refundable would-be celebration.
So Cummins decided to invite people from four area homeless shelters to enjoy the 170-person reception she and Araujo spent two years planning.
“For me, it was an opportunity to let these people know they deserved to be at a place like this just as much as everyone else does,” Cummins said.
Inside, the guests from the veterans foundation, Wheeler Mission, Third Phase Christian Center and Dayspring Center, many dressed in semi-formal apparel, dined on hors d’oeuvres of bourbon-glazed meatballs, goat cheese and roasted garlic bruschetta.
“It’s beautiful,” guest Erik Jensen said. “We’re having a great time.”
Jensen, who has been at Wheeler Mission for five months, said he was humbled that he was the recipient of the former couple’s kindness.
“It’s just a really great opportunity for us, that was going to be a huge tragedy in her life,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to spread love. Being homeless is kind of a big loss for all of these guys. This is just a very nice thing to do.”
The men who attended from Wheeler were selected based on their success in the mission’s Steps Toward Economic and Personal Stability program.
“We want to show them that if you excel, good stuff happens,” Wheeler case manager Bryan…