FLORENCE — An 80-year-old Colorado woman received a surprise welcome home parade Monday after battling COVID-19 for months.
Virginia Herrera was diagnosed in April and since then she's been hospitalized twice, spending time at a rehab facility.
"Every day I was trying to wake up and do everything they wanted me to do. It took a lot of effort, but I did it," Virginia Herrera said.
The cancer survivor came down with bilateral pneumonia while battling COVID-19. Doctors had to put her in a medically induced coma for 20 days. She also had to undergo a tracheotomy after using a ventilator to help with her breathing.
"Oh my gosh, I've been going through ventilators, and a trec. A lot of medication and treatments," Virginia Herrera said.
Before she was diagnosed with the virus, she worked as a Nutritional Manager for Fremont County Head Start for more than 50 years. A job that her family says brought her joy.
Dozens of her coworkers filled a Fremont County Head Start bus to participate in the welcome home parade. Neighbors stood on the street corners in support.
"We feel it's a miracle that Virginia has lived through this, 97 days and 60 something days on a ventilator," said Rick Archuletta, a neighbor. "We were praying for her, hoping she would come through OK and Gloria, her daughter, has kept us up to date on Facebook."
While she was in the hospital, her family was unable to visit her. They say God and the power of prayer got them through this difficult time.
"Our grandma is a woman of God and that is the main reason that got all of our family through this. Prayer and God, it was a true miracle," said Andrea Herrera, Virginia's granddaughter.
"This is grandma's house, it's where we all come by to have Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. To us, it's our house as much as it is grandma's," said Dionisio Herrera, Virginia's grandson. "She always has the door open for us, always gives us a full belly to eat. We just love our grandma, all of us do."
While she's happy to be surrounded by friends and family, she has a special message for those in the community.
"Wear a mask and be careful," she said.