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Family celebrates Grand Rapids woman's 90th birthday with parade

The family of Theresa Beduhn had this day marked on their calendar for a long time, but when Michigan's Stay at Home order was extended, they had to get creative.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There haven't been many traffic jams in West Michigan lately, but on Friday, traffic was bumper to bumper in a residential neighborhood and the horns were honking.

It wasn't exactly gridlock. It was a socially distanced parade in honor of Theresa Beduhn who is celebrating her 90th birthday.

"We wanted to do something special to show the love that she has shown to all of us for years," said Theresa's daughter Pam Hild.

The original plan was dinner at Vitale's, but when Michigan's Stay at Home order was extended, Beduhn's five living children put their heads together and decided to organize a parade.

"It was supposed to be a surprise, but she caught it on Facebook is what she did. Of all things a 90-year-old grandma is catching it on Facebook," said Theresa's son Greg Beduhn.

"She came out here this morning and a sign was put in the yard. She didn’t know it. When she saw it said '90' she almost freaked out. ‘Oh my God now they know how old I am.'"

Among the cars filing through the Riverside Gardens neighborhood on the northeast side was a number 57 race car. It's a new iteration of the number 57 Beduhn's late husband Jack owned and maintained in the 1960s. That car was driven by Rich Senneker, whose son Rick drove the new number 57 to Grand Rapids for the parade.

Credit: Cathy Kulhawik
The Beduhn children pose next to the number 57 car.

Jack Beduhn was injured in a work accident, which put much of the burden on Theresa to take care of their six children.

"My mom is truly the unsung hero," said Theresa's daughter Cathy Kulhawik. "We lovingly call her Mother Theresa because she was the heart of the home."

"My mother is the best," said Hild. "She sends out hundreds of cards every year. She remembers everybody’s birthday, everybody’s anniversary, and we’ve got a big family."

Those who were part of the parade left behind gifts and cards, but Theresa's kids say it was seeing everyone that meant the most.

"Her heart is just swelled and to just see all the cousins, all the grandkids. That means so much to her. All the family was there. It was terrific. The best." said Hild.

The Beduhn children say their mother is actually shy and doesn't like to be the center of attention. She's likely already got other people on her mind.

"She remembers everybody who is suffering from the coronavirus," said Hild. "She prays for them every single day. She is the most faith-filled person. She is our angel, our saint. She remembers everybody and she’s praying for everybody who is on the front lines."

Theresa's kids hope they will all be able to visit their mom up close again soon.

"You can’t spend the time together but we’ll be back and hopefully it’ll open up pretty quickly," said Greg.

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