Round Rock Rotarian Jen Henderson wanted to do something to honor the frontline healthcare workers, so she reached out to fellow Rotarian Jeremy Barclay, the CEO of St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, to see how she could help.

From there, for more than two months, Jen and Jeremy, both Round Rock Rotarians, worked to organize a nightly parade not only as a thank you to the healthcare employees working the front lines in the midst of a pandemic, but to also encourage patients and remind the community that we are all in this together. Collectively, they developed a plan to honor the healthcare staff with nightly car parades. The parades required frequent communication between Jeremy and Jen to ensure they would run smoothly. At the start of each nightly parade, community members would show up in the hospital parking lot, form a line, and then drive around the hospital while honking their horns and holding signs of appreciation and thanks. Diverse groups from all different backgrounds were welcomed and showed their appreciation. Many local car clubs, church groups, girl scout troops, boy scout troops, motorcycle groups, and even fellow Rotarians turned out to give their support.

During a time of isolation and social distancing, this parade brought community members together, even if it was from their cars. Community members who came to the parades were quickly reminded they were not facing this pandemic alone and that we were all in this together. Those who participated in the parades would post photos from outside of the hospital, patients would call their loved ones sitting in the parking lot and, staff would wave back, tailgate and shed tears of thanks all while adhering to  the social distancing orders in place. 

So many community members were inspired by the events and participated every chance they could. Jen received phone calls and texts thanking her for her efforts. Her family was present at every parade and would lead the parade nightly with banners and a megaphone. Jen and Jeremy reached out to every club in the area so that all community members felt included. Jeremy kept the employees informed of the purpose of the parade and would note daily the groups who would be attending each night. Together, Jen and Jeremy were able to ensure vehicles attended, the community felt included, and employees and patients felt encouraged. Some nights there were five cars, others there were 80 cars, but every single night tears were shed, and enjoyment and excitement filled the faces of so many. The final parade was held on May 15, with an estimated 275 cars. This event benefited everyone involved, and it built goodwill and better friendships throughout the entire Round Rock community.