Our Unsung Hero: Parade of Waves founder

Posted April 22, 2020 at 5:51 pm

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By Julie Ann Madden

When her daughters were missing their dad, who resides in the Akron Care Center, and his fellow residents, their mom wondered if the Akron-Westfield community could do a Parade of Waves the next day.

“I want to thank everyone for coming out and joining,” said Akron Parade of Waves coordinator Christy Walrod. “It wouldn’t be a parade without them.”

The first Parade of Waves was held March 9, and now they are held weekly at 3 p.m. Sundays.

Participants — and anyone is welcome — line up at the Akron-Westfield School parking lot before 3 p.m. so the parade can begin right at 3 p.m.

The first one was led by Akron Police Chief William Young, and had 55 vehicles. The second Sunday there were 86 vehicles and by the third one, there were too many vehicles, including fire trucks, semi tractors, and classic cars, to count.

Plus, there were horse riders that joined the parade on April 5.

For Easter Sunday, an Easter Bunny made an appearance in the parade.

“My kids get so excited when we go in (to the nursing home) and see their dad,” said Walrod, explaining her husband, Bobby, has resided at the nursing home since January 2016.

“When we go in and see Bobby, all the residents visit with us and talk to the kids,” she added. “The kids don’t get that since we don’t get to come in anymore.”

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the nursing home has been closed to visitors since March 14.

“I thought it would be something the residents would love, too,” said Walrod.

“I also thought it would be a neat way for kids to see each other,” said Walrod, who is a substitute teacher for both Akron-Westfield and West Sioux. “The kids really miss seeing people on the outside, too, and it was just a great way for kids to see their friends in a safe manner.”

Participants decorate their cars, make signs with messages for those they see along the route and some even wear costumes — even though none of this is required for participation.

“I just love seeing all the creativeness,” said Walrod who can be found taking photos or creating live-stream Facebook videos of each event. “It puts a big smile on my face to see (all the participation).”

A Letter to the Editor one Care Center staff member wrote made her cry.

“It was so sweet,” said Walrod. “The Parade of Waves really give residents something to look forward to.”

“I’d just like to thank everyone,” said Walrod who was nominated as an Unsung Hero.

Adding a thank you to Akron residents Tami Small, Krista Vanderhelm and Kourtney Nicholson for helping with the Parade of Waves and to the community.

“It’s everyone in the community that makes it so special,” said Walrod.

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