POWHATAN – Cars were lined up as far as the eye could see to make sure local boy Josiah Brooks’s 10th birthday was a special one.
Josiah’s birthday is probably his favorite day of the year, and despite being mostly homebound because of social distancing restrictions, his parents, Melinda and Adam Brooks, still wanted to make his 10th birthday on May 8 extra special.
The little boy was born with Down syndrome and has had many related health problems through the years. By the time he was 9 years old, he had already had nine surgeries, including two open-heart surgeries, his mom said.
“He wasn’t even supposed to make it through birth, but he has defied all the odds,” Melinda said.
Because of all of those health issues, Josiah has a compromised immune system, so his family is being even more cautious than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
But they are also embracing the positives. For the last year, Josiah has been surgery free, so in addition to marking his birthday, his parents also wanted to celebrate how far he has come. Melinda had seen videos and photos online of drive-by celebrations of various kinds being held as a way to circumnavigate social distancing.
“I just thought that would be something special to do since he loves his birthday and loves his friends but could not be with his friends since he is susceptible to COVID-19,” Melinda said. “I put it on Facebook thinking we might have 15 cars. I had no clue the response we would receive from this.”
About 38 cars drove by the Brooks’ house while they sat at the end of their driveway. Visitors waved homemade signs, shouted well wishes, and made noise as they slowly passed by the family twice – the Brooks live on a street with a cul-de-sac so cars got to offer their greetings to the excited little boy both coming and going.
The people who came out for the event included family and friends, their pastor and his family, church members, and every teacher who has taught the third-grader since he started attending Flat Rock Elementary, as well as his speech therapist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist.
“He touches a lot of people,” Adam said.
“He is just a special boy,” Melinda agreed. “His smile is infectious. He has the sweetest disposition.”
The Brooks have lived in Powhatan about five years and said the community has always been supportive, especially through many of Josiah’s health issues. So to have them come out for a positive reason – celebrating their son’s 10th birthday – and watch Josiah light up to see so many familiar faces warms their hearts, Adam said.
“He has seen a few of them digitally with distance learning, but everybody else he hadn’t seen in awhile,” Adam said.
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.