Neighbors surprise Columbia boy with birthday parade

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COLUMBIA - Saturday was not the birthday that four-year-old Beckett Karr was expecting. 

Like most kids, he was looking forward to having a big birthday party, but couldn't because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We were actually a little sad at first because last year for Beckett's third birthday, he was still like in the deeps of treatment," his mom, Lauren Karr, said. "He had actually just gotten out of the hospital a couple weeks prior for like a week long treatment."

When Beckett was two and a half, doctors diagnosed him with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, or ALS.

"About a month and a half into treatment we found out that he has a mutation that makes the likelihood of it coming back through the roof," she said. "At this point he has almost had leukemia longer than he hasn't."

After she mentioned to a friend that Beckett could not have a party, her friend still wanted to make his birthday special.

"She was like, 'Well, can a few of us just walk by and you know kind of maybe like have a little walk by parade and say, happy birthday?' and I said, 'Sure, no problem,'" Lauren said. 

Even without a party, Lauren said the birthday boy still got to have his day.

"It was just kind of a slow moving day, we did whatever he wanted at home. We had donuts for breakfast as we do for every birthday where we blow out the candles on the donut," Lauren said. "It's kind of a family tradition."

Lauren was tipped off that something was going to happen, but not what greeted her family outside their front door on Saturday.

“As I was kind of grabbing Beckett to go outside, I heard the siren and I thought, oh goodness.”

A line of cars with sirens and horns paraded past their house to celebrate Beckett's birthday.

“We were like completely thrown off to see car after car fully decorated and some of them were like blaring the Happy Birthday song and some of them were singing it whilst somebody threw candy."

In video of the parade taken by a neighbor, Beckett can be seen waving to the cars as they passed by.

"At first he just kind of goes, 'Oh, wow, whoa, whoa, whoa.' And it kind of got louder and louder and you know, was waving at everybody and just was so excited," Lauren said.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, surprises like Beckett's birthday parade, serve as a reminder that there is hope.

"We've got neighbors and friends and co-workers to do things like a parade for him on a random Saturday afternoon that makes me realize like, we're gonna be okay, everyone's gonna be okay," Lauren said.

As the rest of the country adapts to social distancing, Lauren said a lot of friends and co-workers have been asking her for tips. She and her family have been practicing it since Beckett's cancer diagnosis in 2018.

"If you go out in public, the minute you come in, you change your clothes, those clothes go right in the washer, they don't go on the couch, they don't go in the dining room chair," she said. "That's kind of a big one that I've been sharing with everyone."

Lauren said she is grateful to everyone who was a part of the parade. She is hoping to hold a real party to thank all of them once the situation gets better and social distancing is no longer required.

Happy birthday, Beckett!