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A Stockton woman is planning a unique Celebration of Life ceremony for her father, who was unvaccinated and died from COVID-19. She hopes the ceremony will honor his life and save others by offering a mobile vaccination clinic on site.
“He played the guitar. He loved the beach. He loved the mountains,” 24-year-old Dhavina Rondaris said, describing her father.
Earlier this month, David Rondaris spent his 44th birthday at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton.
“We didn’t have confirmation until he actually was in the hospital, but we knew from his symptoms, like he couldn’t smell. He couldn’t breathe,” Dhavina said.
She said that her dad, who had kidney disease and was unvaccinated, had gotten COVID-19 in October. She was not allowed to visit him in the hospital, but she would FaceTime him to talk.
“He just looked so scared,” Dhavina said. “He looked like he knew he was in trouble, and he would say things like, ‘No matter which way this goes, I love you no matter what.'”
After two months in the hospital, she said, her father died last week.
“I’m a part of this community that I’m like heartbroken to be part of,” Dhavina said.
Now, she wants to do what she can to make sure others don’t have to share in that feeling.
“I know it’s not my fault, but I do feel like I have an obligation to encourage my family to not have the same fate as my dad,” she said.
So, as she plans a ceremony to honor David’s life, she hopes it will also save others. Dhavina wants the Celebration of Life in Lockeford on Jan. 8, to double as a mobile vaccine clinic.
She is still sorting out the details but plans to offer $200 to the first 20 people who get the shot.
“Maybe it’s a passionate plea or a desperate attempt to get people vaccinated, but I feel like it needs to be done, and I don’t feel like I would be doing right by my dad by not doing everything that I could possibly do to encourage people to get shots in their arms,” she said.
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