Victoria DaPonte has been separated from her daughter, Mikayla for weeks. DaPonte is an ER nurse at Charlton Memorial Hospital. Mikayla is a student at B.M.C. Durfee High School, and has Down syndrome and a compromised immune system. DaPonte arranged to have Mikayla stay with her dad, Karl for her own safety while out on the frontlines caring for patients during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“It’s been hard,” said DaPonte. “She’s my sunshine and I’m the world to her. We FaceTime every day. We just did her schoolwork over video chat. We just want this to be over.”

To make things even harder for the family, Mikayla’s 21st birthday plans were spoiled during the coronavirus outbreak. “I think we had been working on a trip to Foxwoods for over a year,” DaPonte explained. “I was just telling a friend how the plans were spoiled with closures and I was upset for Mikayla.” That same friend told DaPonte about an event she had seen on social media and DaPonte knew that a “birthday parade” was the way to go. “I just had to make this happen, so I called family and friends, sent messages and got as many people as possible involved."

The end result was a 30-car parade driving by the Fall River house, fully decorated in celebration of Mikayla’s 21st birthday on Monday, March 30. Music blasting, cars honking, and loved ones shouting in glee for the woman of the hour. DaPonte is grateful for Mikayla’s friends, relatives, classmates, teachers and even city police who turned out to wish her daughter a happy birthday.

Mikayla’s dad posted a video of the parade on Facebook and it shows her face lighting up when she realized what was happening. Karl can be heard saying, “Isn’t this awesome! They all love you!” When DaPontes makes it around the parade route for the second time, Mikayla can be heard saying, “I want to give my mom a hug.” Unfortunately, that just wasn’t possible. “I want this to end, mom! I just want to give you a hug.”

This was all bittersweet for DaPonte. “I wish I could have been there for her on her birthday, give her a hug and a kiss, and just hold her. But this was pretty cool too.” When asked how their reunion will be when it’s finally safe to be together, DaPonte stated that they’ll have a small belated birthday party for her at home, “but a hug and a kiss are long overdue.”

To make this birthday even sweeter, Foxwoods reached out to DaPonte via Facebook and invited Mikayla and her mom for a free overnight stay that will include a special birthday dinner in Mikayla’s honor. The two will make arrangements when the casino reopens and it is safe to do so.

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