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81-year-old COVID-19 survivor gets a birthday surprise

It was heartfelt, but bittersweet
Posted at 6:59 PM, Apr 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 19:00:28-04

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Time and time again, Western New Yorkers show how to make the best of a difficult situation. Despite being separated, there's always a way to celebrate.

“We need good things. We need to smile again. Little by little we have to, we have to move on," said Peter Orlando of the Town of Tonawanda.

Bob Boncore celebrated his 81st birthday on Sunday. His friends and family brought the party to him, social distancing style. A parade of cars waved and dropped off gifts.

It wasn't just a birthday party, it was a welcome home.

“We’re here to honor Bob on his birthday and for his recovery from the virus, we’re hoping this will show him how much everyone loves them,” said Olga Gallivan, his friend of 50 years.

Boncore is recovering from a month-long battle with COVID-19. He left the hospital on April 10 and is still on oxygen, but he's recovering well. For him, this celebration is bittersweet. For the first time in decades, he's celebrating his birthday, without his wife, Cora.

“She was his sweetheart and it was always that way. Great parents, great family, an awesome couple,” said Gallivan.

The pair celebrated their 60th anniversary in January. Cora also had the virus and was admitted to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital on the same day as Bob. They were fighting it together, but Cora lost her fight and died on March 31.

“Not being able to be there for him, to hug him, to give him our sympathies in person, it was tough, really tough, it hit home you know? Because they’re family,” said Gallivan.

In his time of need, his community is rallying around him by sending him well wishes from afar.

“He’s a strong man. He’ll progress and it’s a whole new world for the whole family,” said Peter Orlando.