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Friends surprise couple with drive-by gender reveal party after coronavirus concerns forced cancellation

Jennifer and Dustin Sanders hold the sonogram of their daughter. (Photo: Dustin Sanders)
Jennifer and Dustin Sanders hold the sonogram for their daughter. (Photo: Dustin Sanders)

After years of trying to conceive a child, Dustin and Jennifer Sanders were excited to celebrate their pregnancy with family and friends at their gender reveal party. But as global coronavirus cases have reached the hundreds of thousands, the Arkansas pastors decided it was best to cancel the big event.

However, the couple didn’t expect the parade of cars driven by friends toting pink streamers, hats and confetti showering them with love on Saturday after they discovered they would be having a baby girl.

“It was very, very, very emotional,” Sanders, whose friends got together via email and text and planned to meet up in their vehicles for the drive-by celebration, told Yahoo Lifestyle. “To see that kind of outpouring of love is incredible.”

Sanders posted a video of the parade to Facebook and Twitter, and watched it amass over 25,000 retweets by Sunday afternoon.

“YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS!!!” Sanders posted on Facebook, along with the video of the main event. “We decided not to do a gender reveal because of COVID-19. After the live video we got a call from Mrs. Charlotte Edwards asking us to step outside. Some of our incredible church family ... can’t even put into words. Love you all!!”

The couple originally planned to have a large gender reveal party at their church, where the couple serves as pastors. But when the governor made it clear that large gatherings weren’t a good idea, Sanders knew they had to listen.

“As a pastor, we always talk about submitting to authority, so we’re trying to do the same thing,” said Sanders. “It hasn’t even hit our town, but we’re abiding by the rules.”

With their church community so deeply involved in their journey to become parents, everyone had been looking forward to the reveal.

Related Video: How Concerned Should Pregnant Women Be About Coronavirus?

“Everybody was disappointed, since they walked with us through the heartache of miscarriages,” said Sanders. “So behind the scenes without us knowing, a bunch of our friends and church members got together.”

The couple streamed their announcement live on Facebook with a couple thousand people watching.

“When we got done with that, we changed clothes, sat down on the couch and were receiving phone calls and texts,” said Sanders. “By that time, my secretary at church called me and said ‘Hey, can you come outside real quick?’ We walked out of the front door, what you saw began. That video was only a fraction of it.”

Jennifer and Dustin Sanders discover they're having a baby girl. (Photo: Dustin Sanders)
Jennifer and Dustin Sanders discover they're having a baby girl. (Photo: Dustin Sanders)

While the couple is overjoyed to have a healthy pregnancy, they’re also focused on helping people during this time. That’s why they’re actively working within the community to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“As pastors, it’s our job is to spread the love of Jesus and God throughout the community,” said Sanders, who pointed out that his church is going above and beyond to help those in need. This past week, their church partnered with teachers to deliver close to 1,500 meals to the children who are on reduced lunches, dropping off each one at the front door to maintain a safe distance. They’ve also provided several hundred dinners and groceries delivered to senior citizens. “That’s who we are. We try to support love, to spread love and reach more people with the love than we have.”

While their daughter, who they plan to call Madilynne Grace, isn’t born yet, Sanders says he still believes she’s brought joy to those around them during this trying time.

“Getting a little of hope in this dark time,” said Sanders. “It’s incredible to know she’s already done that.”

For the latest news on the evolving coronavirus outbreak, follow along here. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.

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