CORONAVIRUS

Adam Todd celebrates 21st birthday with parade

Adam Todd runs past the Hawkeye Tailgate ambulance to greet during a drive-by parade honoring him on his 21st birthday.
Adam Todd runs past the Hawkeye Tailgate ambulance to greet during a drive-by parade honoring him on his 21st birthday. His mother, Sara Todd, arranged the parade past the family’s hom ein southeast Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Adam Todd, adjusting like many Iowans to a social-distanced lifestyle since the novel coronavirus hit, celebrated a milestone 21st birthday with a drive-by parade Friday evening.

Todd, best known for being ABC World News Tonight Person of the Week in 2016, stood outside the Cedar Rapids house where he lives with his parents, Dale Todd, a Cedar Rapids City Council member, and Sara Todd, watching the cars drive by wishing him a happy birthday.

“My son has a bigger following than I would ever hope to have,” Dale Todd said. “Everybody knows he loves a parade. He loves the trucks and cars and people that are a part of that.

“There’s no better example that ‘it takes a village.’ He has had a team for 21 years.”

Todd, who will be graduating from Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.

The parade was arranged by his mother, Sara, who invited friends and teachers to drive by between 5 and 6 p.m. to wave, shout happy birthday, hold up a sign, sing a song or do a dance, all from a safe distance — “whatever they’re able to,” she said.

Sara said Adam would have finished his last semester of education had the coronavirus not cut the school year short.

“That makes it extra special,” Sara said. “He hasn’t really gotten to say goodbye to his friends and teachers.

“We have appreciated his teachers so much. They have been a part of his team and really a part of our family.”

Adam, a member of the Washington High School junior varsity track team, captured national attention in 2016 when, during a cross-country race at Noelridge Park, he became distracted and veered from the course. Evan Hansen, a runner from Iowa City High, loped after him and guided him back to the track.

They ran the last mile together, the last two to cross the finish line.

That show of compassion and sportsmanship is what led to ABC News picking both of them as Persons of the Week.

In addition to Friday’s parade, Adam celebrated his birthday by taking his service dog, Turbo, on a run and trying to spot trains. He and his mom saw two.

“It was a good day,” Sara said.

Adam’s birthday cake, made by a family friend, was decorated with a train and a golden retriever that looks like Turbo.

“We were trying to think of a creative way we can help Adam have fun and celebrate him,” Sara said. “He deserves it.”

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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