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Family, friends hold parade for Giles student with special needs

Community comes together to show Nate he is loved

PEMBROKE, Va. – Social distancing is making celebrating important life events and milestones hard, but that didn’t stop family and friends of a Giles County student with special needs from letting him know that he is loved.

Mom Leslie Williams-Simpkins of Pembroke said she knew her son Nate would be disappointed not to be surrounded by friends and family on his birthday. That’s when she took to Facebook to ask everyone to join together for a drive-by parade.

The last few weeks have left everyone with so many uncertainties. It’s been the most difficult thing to explain to my kids in all of their lifetime. I have prayed for God to help me have the right words for their questions, and even with Nate he knows something is going on with all the routine he loves to follow being so messed up. He hasn’t been able to voice as many questions as Nicholas has, but I can tell he gets a lot of what is going on. Ironically with all that continues to transpire with Covid19 today Nate, and I both learned through all the uncertainties one thing is certain. He is loved. We will always remember today! People remain faithful in supporting us in some off the wall ideas to prove we love, and adore him. Autism is a challenge daily. He is so use to routine, structure, and he certainly doesn’t miss things going on around him. He told us three days ago that his birthday was soon. He was right. It was crushing me that I was going to have to not do anything for him today. I racked my brain for 3 days how would I get around the Governor. I’m not usually a rule breaker, but I was thinking of breaking the rules today. It crossed my mind multiple times, because although every kid would be crushed not being able to have a bday, Nate just doesn’t understand completely no matter how I would have had to break it to him. This morning it clicked in my head some schools were having their teachers drive through the neighborhoods to give the kids some normalcy, and why couldn’t we copy the same concept. I knew our parents would participate, and I felt like a couple of our family members that were able to make it would be there. I never dreamed so many would jump into help. I truly can’t explain what today meant to Nathan, but as I’m setting here writing this I’m not going to lie you totally made our day as a family. My mom heart just can’t describe exactly how it feels. I’m also a social butterfly, this Covid19 is killer to someone like me! To see the faces of all who I know love him, and more today truly makes my heart want to burst that each one of you took time out of the craziness, and helped pull this off. My only regret is that I would have thought of it sooner so those of you that didn’t see it, or couldn’t get here right at 5:00 could have participated. It should prove to so many kids love people’s presence, their time, their love. There were a couple presents today, but Nathan honestly could have caredless about that. He loved every single second in seeing the faces of people he adores, and loves. I hope each one of you seen his smile! I hope that stays with you during these uncertain times. I hope you can always remember the positive thing that came from all this. Love, smiles, fun, laughter, silliness, and simplicity. It was no doubt one of the best days of his life. As I was helping him wind down tonight I walked away from his bed, and he said, “Thank you!” ...There is a language barrier with Nates autism so his words aren’t always clear, but tonight it was plain as day!! You made that happen! We will NEVER forget that. I pray you always remember sometimes simplicity and love is absolutely the most beautiful gifts you can give someone. We love each of you so very much!! Thank you for a wonderful driveby Birthday Parade!! 🤗 🥰😘🥳😭

Posted by Leslie Williams-Simpkins on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Leslie caught the surprise on video as Nate was excited to see the dozens of vehicles driving by, filled with loved ones waving, honking their horns and shouting, “Happy Birthday.”

Leslie Williams-Simpkins said his birthday is extra special because it’s also Autism Awareness month, which she says is an important cause for Nate and some of his friends.


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