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4-Year-Old Orphaned by COVID Is Going to Have the Best Drive-By Birthday Ever

Some of the people protesting the rules meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 like to say the virus doesn’t affect young people. They should familiarize themselves with the story of Raiden Gonzalez, who will be celebrating his fifth birthday this month without his mother and father, after they died within 100 days of each other from the disease. Raiden’s surviving family members are calling for their San Antonio community both to recognize the toll of the virus, and to help make his birthday special.

“Raiden being left behind, it’s very hard,” Rozie Salinas, his grandmother, told News 4 San Antonio.

Raiden’s father, Adan Gonzalez, was a truck driver who contracted the virus from a coworker in June. He spent a month in the hospital before passing away on June 26.

In early October, Mariah Gonzalez, Raiden’s mother, also became infected. She died just a day after being hospitalized on October 5.

“Mariah’s bubbly personality, amazing teaching and makeup skills, her joy of motherhood and beautiful smile will be so beyond missed,” reads the GoFundMe page the family set up to help collect funds for his grandmother, who is now caring for the boy. “She was a light to this world and that light will never dim whether she is here or not.”

The pre-kindergartener is feeling the loss deeply. “Just this morning he told me that he wishes he had his mom back and he just wanted her back,” Salinas told NBC News.

With his birthday on the horizon, the family came up with the idea of creating a “Roar & Wave” dinosaur birthday parade for Raiden, who loves dinosaurs and trucks. Given that his story now has national attention, the turnout for this socially distant birthday party is looking big.

“We have several truck clubs, bikers, Mustang clubs, classic cars, Jeep clubs, plus the fire department,” Salinas told NBC. “It’s going to be a huge turnout.”

But in addition to making their little boy smile, Raiden’s great-aunt, Margie Bryant, wants everyone to do their part to protect others from this kind of loss.

“We’ve lost two people now to COVID-19 and I can’t emphasize enough the severity, the seriousness and the hurt that this pandemic can cause, so wear your mask, be safe,” she told NBC San Antonio.

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