David and Sharyn Nelson watching the parade drive past from their driveway.

By Sean Crumpacker

Weeks ago, Sharyn Nelson started new rounds of chemotherapy to help her combat lung cancer. Sharyn and husband, David, had been socially distancing long before quarantine even started due to the weakened immune system her treatment had left her with.

Thanks to the idea and coordination of neighbor Julie Fannin and an amazing effort by the Lake St. Charles community, the Nelsons’ neighborhood was able to pull together a massive car parade to lift her spirits.

Approximately 70 cars participated in Sharyn’s car parade on April 17. They drove past the Nelson residence with signs, flags and balloons, all showing their support for Sharyn and her battle against lung cancer.

“I felt overwhelmed by the love and support from everyone that participated,” said Sharyn, who was shocked by the birthday reception.

“It was amazing and something we will never forget,” said David.

Members of the Lake St. Charles community, fellow chemotherapy patients and Adult Scout Leaders from Lake Wales, Brooksville and Pinellas Counties all participated in the parade. Many cars were filled with people, and some travelled upwards of an hour just to join in the celebration.

“I couldn’t believe there were over 70 cars from people from as far away as Lake Wales and Brooksville,” Sharyn commented. “I expected just a few vehicles from the neighborhood.

Fighting against lung cancer, it is no doubt that Sharyn and her husband could use any amount of support and positivity offered to them. And the Lake St. Charles community certainly delivered, showing just how appreciated and cared for they are.

“Some of the residents, they rode motorcycles, and they played the song that I sang to her at our wedding: ‘Forever and Ever, Amen.’ And when she heard that, she just started crying,” said David. “It raised her spirits and it created a memory that will help strengthen her to get her through this battle.”

“It’s been a difficult road for Sharyn over the last year as she faces an uphill battle. Due to her condition and ongoing treatment, it was already enormously challenging for her to have contact and interact with all of us who wanted to be close, and this COVID-19 environment has only served to exacerbate that situation,” said Pete Furgus, a close friend of the couple.

“But she’s a strong fighter and the knowledge that she’s greatly loved and supported by so many around her gives even more of an incentive to conquer this terrible disease. And she will.”

The couple have conveyed not just thankfulness for the grand reception, but also just how valued they feel by their neighbors and friends as a result. Sharyn and David have expressed so much gratitude and appreciation towards the Lake St. Charles community for their amazing efforts to shed some positivity during such an otherwise difficult time.

“The family that we have are the people who live in our community. This is our extended family. The other day showed us why we love living here,” said David.

“I want to thank Julie Fannin for coordinating the parade and all of my friends and neighbors that made it an evening I will never forget,” said Sharyn. “It was a special moment for me and I will forever be grateful.”

The positivity and warmth expressed by the Lake St. Charles community is truly inspiring.