The COVID-19 outbreak is affecting countless areas of the public’s everyday lives. From school and work to travel plans and gatherings, the byproduct of this infectious disease has been numerous closures, cancellations, and postponed events. Most everyone is being disrupted in one way or another. For Kaycee Schmidt of Gering, it was her 21st birthday, on Monday, March 24, that took a hit from new regulations to combat the spread of the pandemic.
In efforts to help Schmidt celebrate in a safe way, Schmidt’s mother, Christy Gabel Shirley, in collaboration with family friends, Emily and Cathy McDaniel, came up with the idea to surprise her.
Schmidt had plans to be with her mom and sister in Las Vegas to commemorate this milestone but instead, as a safety measure, the family canceled the trip and stayed in Gering.
Kaycee said she had no expectations of seeing anyone besides her family.
“I really wasn’t sure if we were going to get to do anything at all,” she said. “I thought that if anything, we would just stay home and drink there and play some games” but her relatives and close friends had other plans.
To help with social distancing on the night of her 21st, Schmidt was given a surprise drive-by parade.
“We knew we couldn’t take her to a bar or have a big get together at anyone’s house, which is a bummer especially for someone’s 21st birthday,” Emily McDaniel said, “but we thought doing a drive-by parade would be a good idea and show her that we care and still wanted to celebrate with her.”
On the morning of Schmidt s birthday, Cathy McDaniel called Schmidt's mother, Christy, with the idea, the two then started spreading the word through a private Facebook group. Friends and family of Schmidt met in their vehicles at Gering High School Monday night and decorated their cars with birthday banners and wrapping paper, provided by Cathy.
When it was time, the group drove down to Schmidt’s residence where her mother guided her to the front yard to watch her friends drive by and wave with banners strung to their cars and party horns honking in celebration of the newly 21-year-old.
“I was confused at first then surprised and shocked and really happy seeing everyone,” Schmidt said. “It was probably the best part of my day, getting to see all my friends.”
With all of the uncertainty in the world and the disappointment many are facing with everyday life being halted, it is heartwarming to hear about the adjustments that the community is making to find ways to make important life moments special while also abiding by the Center for Disease Control’s suggestions for safety.
“I had no clue that anyone was going to surprise me, I honestly wasn’t expecting anything like that at all,” she said. “I knew that my sisters and mom were trying to make it a great day for me and they definitely did.”