By Mckenzie Moore
It was Brenna’s sixth birthday on May 20, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she was barred from having a birthday party. What set this experience apart from many others’, however, is that she didn’t get to have much of one for her fifth birthday last year either, as her mother suffered a brain aneurysm and Brenna was laser-focused on taking care of her mom, who is now back at home.
“We didn’t do much for her birthday last year because we were busy taking care of Mom,” said Brenna’s father Chris Kadlec. “And with the whole coronavirus thing, we couldn’t have a birthday party this year either. I wanted her to be able to smile about something with everything that’s going on right now.”
Not about to let his daughter go another year without a proper celebration, Kadlec teamed up with the Christian Motorcyclists Association and reached out to local first responders to throw a surprise birthday parade.
“Last year was such a big deal because she could’ve lost her mom. I prayed a lot. I’ve never prayed so hard in my life,” Kadlec said. “What a big heart that little girl has, that motivated me. I crossed my fingers that everything was going to fall into place.”
When Kadlec originally reached out to first responders, they were not able to make any guarantees about whether or not they could participate. But the sound of multiple sirens alerted the neighborhood to the presence of a small fleet of emergency vehicles before they even came around the corner.
The parade, led by the Delta County Fire Department and including a fire truck, ambulances, an ice cream truck, motorcycles and other vehicles, passed in front of Brenna’s house that evening, honking and bringing gifts.
“It came around the corner and then she goes, ‘Daddy, what’s going on?’ I go, ‘There’s a lot of people that care about you and appreciate everything you do, and they want to wish you a happy birthday.’ And she just started bawling,” Kadlec said. “I knew that would mean so much to her. The reaction was priceless. That made everything worth it.”
Many of the people participating in the parade knew about Brenna and her family’s story and showed up to let her know she had the support of the community.
“The driver of the ice cream truck comes every Sunday for my daughter, and she’s been coming ever since my wife had the aneurysm,” Kadlec said. “She knows what Brenna’s been through and what Brenna had to do to step up, how helpful and kind hearted she is.”
Although stopping after the parade wasn’t planned, members of the groups stayed after the parade to show Brenna the inside of emergency vehicles and take her for a ride around the block in a motorcycle sidecar. From down the road, Brenna could be seen skipping and spraying a can of Silly String, with supportive parade drivers looking on.
Kadlec said he hopes that when his daughter looks back on her birthday, she remembers the support of the community and the importance of coming together.
“Hopefully it gives everyone hope,” Kadlec said. “Everybody does work together, and that’s what we need… As a community, that’s the only way we’re going to thrive.”