By Morgan Bryce
For the Opelika Observer
A drive-thru parade, pizza dinner, personalized birthday message from an active University of North Carolina basketball player and office decorated with uplifting messages and signs were all part of the 50th birthday celebration for Dr. Linda Farmer, who has worked for the last 17 years as an oncologist at East Alabama Medical Center.
The weekend-long celebration served as an alternative to a planned dance party that was scrapped because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and was planned by her family and friends, including Yer Jin, a nurse at the Spencer Cancer Center where Farmer works.
“I enjoyed collaborating to surprise Linda. It took a lot of emails, texts and scheming to pull off the greatest four-day surprise; and I believe it paid off in the end. Her smile, laughter, and tears really told us how much it all meant to her,” Jin said. “For me, being able to work on this project was a privilege; I was giving back to a friend who gives so much to her community. If I could do it again, I would because she deserves so much and more.”
The festivities began on May 15 with a drive-thru parade in the parking lot of Bow & Arrow, which began with a police escort and ended with a firetruck. While Farmer and her immediate family enjoyed a pizza dinner, more than 45 cars participated, which included other family members, friends, hospital staff and patients. A family member added that some drove to as long as two hours to participate.
A diehard Tar Heels fan, Farmer received a personalized birthday message from Auburn High School alum and current North Carolina basketball player Garrison Brooks on Sunday.
When she arrived to work on Monday, Farmer’s office was decorated with signs used in the parade and a scrapbook documenting all the weekend’s festivities. A family member said the celebration was planned to not only commemorate a significant milestone, but recognize her efforts to make a difference in the lives of others.
“(The weekend) was very emotional. Overwhelming. A few tears. Many more laughs, especially when the panda jumped out of the sunroof during the parade. So many great memories,” the family member said. “Dr. Farmer has done so much for the community and her level of patient care is second to none, (which is why we did this for her).”