Hometown Hero: Reverend Billy Hester

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Billy Hester has been preserving love for more than two decades.

For the 21st consecutive Valentine's Day this weekend, Hester and his wife Cheri were at City Market, helping couples renew their wedding vows. It's a ceremony the pastor of Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church says is both celebration and recommitment.

"What I always share with them is these vows to me are almost even more meaningful than the first vows you took," says Hester. "Because now you know what it means to be with this partner through the good and the bad. You know what it's about."

More than 100 couples joined the Hesters this Valentine's Night all for different reasons and at different intervals of marriage.

And every year, every couple has their own story, including the one who had attended for 17 straight years, until the husband got sick.

"He was under chemo treatment and didn't have the energy to come down," said Hester. "They had a couple come and hold a cellphone during the vows."

The ceremony is non-denominational, free and open to the public, to attend and participate in. But the effect is often spiritual.

"We know how hard marriage is and to see people willing to say yes, we're in this is great," said Hester. "We've seen some situations when people have been separated came back."

For another Valentine's Day, Hester was back in City Market, a WTOC Hometown Hero helping families grow stronger for one more year.

"It's people who realize, this isn't easy," he says, "but we celebrate it."

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