Balloon release honors those who died from COVID-19

Published 2:46 pm Saturday, November 13, 2021

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

It was a very personal moment for the Richardsons as they released yellow balloons at Worship in the City on Nov. 13 in memory of those who have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We just wanted to give our condolences to all of the families that lost their loved ones due to COVID, and wanted to show them that we are thinking of them and that they are loved and send comfort to them,” Pastor Justine Richardson of Next Level Elevation Church said. “We know that death is never easy … so we just wanted to do it as a symbol that we see them, we feel their pain, and we are definitely praying for them.”

Both she and husband Pastor Isaiah Richardson of Next Level Elevation Church have lost friends to the virus.

Justine Richardson said a former classmate died of COVID-19 a month ago after being on a ventilator for two or three weeks.

“I have several family members that have passed from COVID,” she said.

Isaiah Richardson said several of his classmates from college have also passed away from the virus.

“It amazes me how — one minute you are here, the next minute you are gone,” he said. “Cause we had, a couple weeks before, talked on the phone, and the next thing I know, they’re gone. My heart hurts to see loved ones, family members passing on.”

He said this was the reason he wanted to do the balloon release and have a worship event — to bring attention to what is going on “and let them know there are people out there that care, that are praying for they.”

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, 93 Chilton County residents have died from the virus this year. This is compared to 76 last year.

The Nov. 13 event was the second time Next Level Elevation has hosted a public worship event at Corner Park in downtown Clanton, and Isaiah Richardson hopes to hold it annually with a different worship focus each year related to what is going on in the community at the time.

Next Level Elevation Church is located on 711 Second Avenue in downtown Clanton.