As Woody Schwarze of Alexandria sat in his driveway Saturday afternoon, a couple of family members he wasn't expecting showed up. As did hundreds of other guests – via their vehicles.

Schwarze, who has Down syndrome, had planned on celebrating his 34th birthday April 4 with a party at Pizza Ranch. However, because of the governor's stay-at-home order, his plans were ruined.

Enter Helping Hands of Alexandria. In a post dated March 28, Nattiel Dammer said Schwarze was sad because he couldn't have his birthday party this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. She made a request for people to not only mail him a birthday card, but also participate in a drive-by birthday party. The cards had to be sent by a certain date so they could be quarantined before they were given to him. Those who wanted to participate in the birthday surprise drive-by parade just had to show up at Shalom Lutheran Church at 12:45 p.m.

And boy did they show up. For more than 15 minutes, a steady stream of vehicles slowly drove by Schwarze, who sat in a lawn chair in the driveway waving and smiling. Honking horns and shouts of "Happy Birthday!" could be heard around the whole neighborhood.

It may not have been the birthday he was expecting, but Schwarze was nothing but smiles the whole time.

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For the full story, which includes two other Alexandria residents who had surprise birthday parties, read the Wednesday, April 8, Echo Press.