These Oklahoma parents explained COVID-19 to their adult offspring with special needs with a parade

Great State

OKARCHE, Okla. (KFOR) — A parade was the best they could manage.

Dwight and Tina Schmidt hadn’t seen their son Justin since last October.

“We were gone for the winter,” said Steve. “They’ve been keeping him busy. He has a job here on the campus.”

Ryan Darman’s parents hadn’t seen him in person since February.

“I’m telling you it’s driving us crazy,” said his mom.

Up and down a long line of more than 80 cars, family members of residents living at the Center of Family Love waited for a brief chance at seeing their special needs adult offspring.

This facility shut down completely to visitors and volunteers in early March.

They had three positive Covid- 19 cases in May but were successful in stopping the spread.

Explaining what was happening was a little more difficult.

“It’s been hard,” said Center of Family Love Director Debbie Espinosa. “They haven’t been able to get out into the community in five months. So we brought the community to them.”

Staffers here decided to try a parade to lift spirits on both sides.

Parents like Lisa Dean had taken to Facetime or Zoom to stay in touch.

“Tell me how long it’s been since you were able to hug her neck,” asks a parade spectator?

“Five months and six days,” she quickly replies.

Charlie and Anne Bradford says it’s a lot harder for them than Charlie’s brother Mark, a long time center resident.

“He handles a lot of situations better than we do,” explained Mr. Bradford.

Bob and Pam Winstead’s son Kyle moved here five years ago.

They last time they were able to hug their son and speak in person was late February.

“We miss him so much,” said Bob.

Their conversations about Covid- 19 stayed with a simple idea.

Bob continues, “We call it ‘the germ’. He understands that.”

Some 200 people lined up to see the residents here.

They honked and waved, and said everything they possibly could to make sure the people just a few feet away knew they cared.

Understanding the novel coronavirus has been a difficult concept for everyone.

But telling someone you love them, and that you’ll see them soon, is a message anyone can understand.

The Center of Family love called their procession the ‘Share the Love’ Parade.

For more information on the center, visit their website.

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