Texas boy whose parents died of COVID-19 gets 5th birthday parade

December 27, 2020
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Image Source: https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/

A Texas boy whose mother and father both died from COVID-19 celebrated his fifth birthday with a drive-by parade that featured fire trucks, dinosaurs and even Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The parade in San Antonio, Texas, took place Saturday, nearly one week after Raiden Gonzalez’s birthday on Nov. 22, his first birthday without his parents by his side.

“Everyone, including Raiden, was just overwhelmed with joy,” Margie Bryant, Raiden’s great aunt, told “Good Morning America.” “We were overwhelmed with the response from the community.”

Raiden, an only child, lost both of his parents, Adan and Mariah, over a span of around 100 days due to COVID-19.

The family planned a small birthday parade to help Raiden celebrate his birthday, but it quickly grew into a community event, with the San Antonio fire and police departments joining in. The parade lasted one hour, and it was the only hour of the day Saturday that it was not raining in San Antonio, according to Bryant.

“To me it’s like somebody was definitely looking down at us, and it worked out,” she said. “I would say Mariah and Adan were smiling and proud of what we did for our little man.”

Raiden’s mom, Mariah Gonzalez, 29, died Oct. 6, less than 24 hours after she was taken from the home of her mother, Rozie Salinas, where she had been staying with Raiden, to the hospital.

The preschool teacher had been feeling fine up until the night of Oct. 5, when she started to complain of chills and body aches and then had difficulty breathing, said Salinas, who called 911 and watched as her daughter was taken away in an ambulance

“I didn’t think that was going to be the last time that I was going to see her,” Salinas told “GMA” last month.”By [the next] morning, she was gone.”

Salinas said medical staff at the San Antonio hospital where Gonzalez was treated initially said she tested negative for COVID-19 but later said a COVID-19 test for Gonzalez came back positive after she had died. The official causes of death on Gonzalez’s death certificate are listed as COVID-19, pneumonia and acute respiratory failure, according to Salinas.

Gonzalez’s husband, Adan, died from COVID-19 on June 26 after spending nearly four weeks hospitalized with complications from the virus.

The family believes Adan contracted COVID-19 through his work as a cement truck driver. They say the 33-year-old had no preexisting conditions and had just passed a physical exam that was required for his job.

“[Raiden] understands what happened with his dad and that his dad is an angel, but he can’t process yet that Mariah is gone and she is an angel too,” Salinas said. “There are times when he has his moments. He’ll ask why he can’t have his mommy back.”

While the Gonzalezes both had to continue working outside the home, family members say they were very cautious about the virus, wearing face masks and staying out of public places as much as possible.

Now the family is trying to pick up the pieces and make a new life for Raiden, who will continued to be cared for by Salinas.

The family has not yet been able to have memorial services for Adan and Mariah, so the parade on Saturday provided some closure for the family, according to Bryant.

“It was very emotional,” she said. “Even those these past three months have not been the best for our family, we chose to take joy in the memories that we have of our loved ones.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for Raiden’s future, and the effort has raised more than $170,000 from members of the community and strangers from around the world. Even at the birthday parade, people brought gifts and money for the family, according to Bryant.

She added that Raiden plans to donate gifts he’s received to kid-focused charities.

“In these trying times when so many people have lost their jobs and they’re probably struggling, to see them come out and respond that way, is just incredible,” Bryant said. “We are very, very thankful and humbled at the generosity and the love from people and the abundance of gifts that he received.”

More than 268,000 people have died in the U.S. due to COVID-19, and more than 13 million U.S cases have been diagnosed since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the United States reached an all-time high of 93,238 on Sunday, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Bryant said she hopes people continue to take COVID-19 seriously, even as the pandemic rages on, noting that the generous birthday parade for Raiden was a “bittersweet” moment for the family.

“I told my sister, ‘I would give this all back if we could get [Mariah and Adan] back,'” she said. “I would just continue to encourage everybody to stay safe and wear their masks.”

Story Source: https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/wellness/story/texas-boy-parents-died-covid-19-5th-birthday-74465968

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