Breaking News
More () »

Toledo news, weather, traffic and sports | Toledo, Ohio, | wtol.com

Birthday drive-by celebration surprises former volleyball coach, Melissa Belcher

Belcher was diagnosed with ALS 10 years ago. Today, she celebrated her 48th birthday with the help of many of her friends.

OAK HARBOR, Ohio — There’s nothing like a surprise party to celebrate a birthday. 

Tonight in Oak Harbor, a drive-by birthday bash helped Melissa Belcher turn 48. Tears of joy poured from her eyes as car after car dropped off balloons, gifts and flowers.

Her family was beyond grateful for the emotional show of love and support.

"I wanted it to be extra special with people that have cared about her and meant so much to her in this journey," said Melissa's mother, Janice Smith.

"It's very emotional for all of us, because we know how much joy people bring to her. The fact that people are willing to drive far to come see her and spend a special day with her is overwhelmingly joyful," said Denise Hunter.

The former Central Catholic volleyball coach and Northview math teacher was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, 10 years ago. The average life expectancy following diagnosis is 3 to 5 years. 

Those who know her aren't surprised that she's overcome the odds. She’s one tough cookie.

"She had made impacts before that we had no idea. She just did her thing at school. Until she came down with ALS ,we didn't know the people and students that she had an impact on," said Janice.

"Even to this day, with this disease and not being able to speak, she still impacts people." said Denise.

From former players, to assistant coaches and teachers... As each car pulled up, it was clear even through tears of joy to see the profound impact she’s had on so many lives.