Beltsville Community Makes a Child’s Birthday Extra Special By Rick Bergmann
May 30, 2020, will be a day that I will never forget. It was a day that reminded me that in times of crisis that the support of community is one of the most important things in this world. What was so special about this day? It was the day that members of the Beltsville community came together to make a 10-year-old boy’s birthday extra special.
On May 20, a parent posted to The Beltsville News Facebook page “My Son is turning 10 on May 30, 2020. Every other year we’ve thrown him a birthday party and rent a moon bounce but usually no one attends. My son is Autistic & it’s heart breaking when he’s so excited and only 5 people (family) attend.” She was asking for people to drive by on his birthday just to wave and say happy birthday.
This post broke my heart, and I decided that we could make it extra special for him. I began by setting up an event and inviting the community to meet at Beltsville Academy on May 30 at 3 pm so that we could form a parade of cars for this young man, Vladimir. The response was almost immediate. I contacted the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department’s Deputy Fire Chief, Mike Monteith, to see if they would be willing to bring a fire truck to participate in the parade. There didn’t seem to be a moment’s hesitation; he agreed right away.
On the day of the parade, I arrived at Beltsville Academy early to greet people. By 3 there were about 40 cars full of people and families with signs wishing Vladimir a happy birthday as well as three fire trucks and a special guest, Spider-Man, Vladimir’s favorite superhero. Many people, including the fire department and The Beltsville News, also brought gifts for young Vladimir. A little after 3, we all left and headed to our destination, Vladimir’s home. It was an amazing thing to see so much community support for a child. When we arrived, there were several members of Vladimir’s family as well as a few neighbors standing in the driveway watching as the parade went by. The parade stopped several times as people quickly ran out (wearing masks of course) to give Vladimir birthday gifts, cards, and well wishes.
I have never been prouder of the Beltsville community then I was that day. Vladimir’s mom wrote: “Thank you everyone. Vladimir loved his birthday celebration. This was definitely the best birthday EVER! I’m forever thankful. I can’t even begin to explain what it meant to Vladimir, to his little sister & to his dad who was in tears. The presents, the signs, just showing up and screaming his name meant the world to Vladimir.” For those of us who participated, it was an awesome and heartwarming day.
Photo Caption: Vladimir (in the hat) with his family and neighbors watching the birthday parade. Photo by Ann Ladd. You can see more photos of the event on our Facebook page.