FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A World War II veteran in Fort Collins celebrated his 100th birthday in northern Colorado last week, 75 years after celebrating his birthday on the beaches of Normandy, France. Though the Nazis were the enemy then, COVID-19 was the enemy during Stanley Sepulveda 100th birthday celebration.
Sepulveda once had to celebrate his birthday an ocean away from his loved ones. Now, in 2020, COVID-19 has forced him to celebrate a window away from his family.
“I never thought I would come home (from the war,)” Sepulveda said told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas via a Zoom call. “Here I am, 100-years-old.”
Because Sepulveda is highly susceptible to COVID-19 he wasn’t allowed to by physically close to his loved ones for his birthday. So, the Wish of a Lifetime organization, and Columbine Health Systems, teamed up to give Sepulveda a special celebration from the comfort of a senior care facility.
“It was a wonderful birthday party for me,” he said.
Outside the window of his room, Sepulveda was greeted with a private concert from local musician Hanna Doreen. Police officers, motorcycle riders and more then treated Sepulveda to a parade outside the building.
“He’s a very social person. To see everybody, he was very overwhelmed,” said Alicia Laney, Sepulveda’s granddaughter.
Sepulveda was also able to take a tour of the places in Europe he served in during WWII, via virtual reality goggles.
“I thank all my friends and neighbors for celebrating my birthday with me,” Sepulveda said.
Sepulveda enjoyed the treats of the day, but said seeing his loved ones outside his window was the best birthday gift he could have asked for.
“(They were) wishing me a happy birthday, and throwing me hugs and kisses. It was my favorite part of the day,” Sepulveda said.
“It was nice to see his happiness,” Laney said.
In 75 years the world has changed a lot. Sepulveda reminds Colorado residents today that the worries of 2020 will one day fade. But, the joy of being with those you love, even from a distance, lasts forever.
“My 100th birthday, that was amazing,” Sepulveda said.
Sepulveda said he was looking forward to being close with his family members and friends for his 101st birthday, and hoped to physically travel to Europe one more time.