By Amy Padilla//Contributor | Tuesday, May 19, 2020
NOVA of Virginia Aquatics recently hosted a parade and food drive to support its local community, promote positivity, and represent their team spirit and compassion for others. The parade included more than 300 cars that arrived to participate and contribute food and necessities to the less fortunate.
The parade was meant to encourage companionship among the team’s swimmers as well as to donate to Feed More of Richmond, a non-profit organization that has been helping to assist many hard-hit families due to the recent pandemic.
The kids were encouraged to decorate their cars with supplies around the house, show off their team pride and NOVA spirit and then contribute to the community. The event was hosted on April 16 from 5 to 6:20 pm at the NOVA swim team’s facility parking lot.
“We wanted to find an opportunity to give back to the community and continue to teach something to the kids as we always do as coaches – teaching life lessons through swimming. We came up with the idea of our swimmers staying in their cars and parading through our parking lot here at our facility and doing a food drive. Swimmers got to decorate their cars, wear their NOVA apparel, drive through the parking lot while waving to the coaches, and then drop off canned foods at the end,” coach Norm Wright said.
He added, “The swimmers went all-out with decorating their vehicles. They had signs made up; they had streamers; they painted on the windows. One person built an almost replica-size starting block on top of their car. Another person had a VW beetle that they put goggles on the front with a strap around the back. It was a lot of fun.”
During the parade, the coaches were standing on the curbs, and the cars were driving down the middle of the parking lot. Some people were hanging out the windows while waving and yelling.
The coaches made sure to maintain proper social distancing according to the state regulations, and wore masks and gloves during the parade and when handling the food donations from the families.
The entire event was an uplifting experience for both the swimmers and the coaches.
“We were just saying ‘hi’ and ‘we miss you.’ It was really very encouraging and a positive environment not only for the kids but for our staff as well,” Wright said.
The team also passed out yard signs that said “NOVA Strong” on them which the swimmers could take and put in their front yard. The parade was even featured on local news channel NBC 12 News.
In addition to advocating team camaraderie and enthusiasm, NOVA has also been using the extra time to perform maintenance on and thoroughly clean their facility to make sure it is a safe place for people to return to.
“We are just optimistic that here in the next few weeks we’ll have the opportunity to get back in the water and bring some type of normalcy to people. We just keep encouraging our swimmers that we are ready and willing and excited to get back on track,” Wright said.