FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — There was a very special birthday in northeast Fresno Friday.
For many, like Dave Dukes, COVID-19 has pushed pause on traditional parties. So people at his birthday had to celebrate from afar.
Guests included the local Corvette club where he’s a member along with the Fresno Police Department, where Dukes volunteered for a decade. He was even McGruff the Crime Dog.
But unlike most birthday parties, everyone here knew this trip around the sun would be his last.
“He hasn’t been doing very good, so this week I decided to celebrate his birthday early,” wife Lori Dukes said.
He was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in August which was followed by a stoke in January. He’s now in hospice care at Heritage Crossing.
Lori threw his 64th birthday party a week early, because she’s not sure he’ll make it that long.
“Everybody loves my husband. He’s loved by so many people,” Lori said.
This was made clear by the parade of endless cars.
“(The Dukes) know how to throw a party. They have a fire pit. They have a dance floor. We have live music. So we just brought the party to them,” Lydia Doizaki Garcia a friend said.
Meagan Grossman, the business development manager for Valley Regional Home Health and Hospice, said Lori told them she was sad she wouldn’t be able to throw her husband a birthday party. So they rallied the community.
“Dave and Lori, as you can see by the outpouring of support today, have really committed their life to giving back,” she said.
More than 100 vehicles filled with family, friends and strangers turned up for a man Lori said does not like being in the spotlight.
“But today he was and he was crying and it was a very emotional day for both of us,” she said.
For friends it was a chance to say goodbye, and for Lori, who’s been by her husband’s side the last 25 years, it was another memory.
“She’ll always have the best of Dave. The way he looks at her, the way she looks at him. I mean you see the way they look at each other. That kind of companionship, love, affection, it never ends,” Garcia said.
Lori said this was by far the best party her husband’s ever had.