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A cross for every Oklahoma life lost due to COVID-19

Posted at 9:05 PM, Dec 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 08:51:50-05

A Tulsa man is honoring every Oklahoma life lost to COVID-19.

Toby Gregory's mission began in October. All the way into December, he is still carrying on the COVID-19 Remembrance Project to ensure each COVID death is honored.

Gregory started with one thousand, that's how many of the small crosses he hammered into his front yard.

“I just couldn’t fathom what was going on. I needed something tangible.", Gregory says.

He usually has a Halloween display in his yard for October, this year he chose to honor the Green Country lives lost to Coronavirus.

Each cross is hand-painted and hammered into the ground by Gregory and 30 other volunteers at Forest Park Christian Church.

Gregory told 2 Works for You, “Not only does each cross represent a death it represents a family that has lost someone and it’s been devastating. Some families have lost multiple people.”

A volunteer for the COVID-19 Remembrance Project, Jamie Pierson, said, “For me, it’s really a reminder of the work still ahead of us to both stop the pandemic but also to really learn how to care for one another.”

On Saturday afternoon, they planted over two thousand crosses to match the near two thousand two hundred Coronavirus deaths in Oklahoma.

“Every time I would staple one together with the slap hammer as I call it, that weighed on me. Each one I could feel that. Like I was stamping the death of each person,” Gregory said.

Gregory told 2 Works for You they have more to install to make sure every death is memorialized, there are still more being painted.

“But now it’s more of a, instead of bringing me down, I feel proud that I’m doing it and that I’m helping other people see what’s going on and helping other people grieve,” Gregory said.

The display is personal for Kristy Young who lost both her parents to COVID-19.

“Two of the crosses that are here represent their lives,” Young says.

Young's mother and sister contracted the virus at the same time, five days later her mother passed away due to complications.

“I really didn’t have a chance to mourn my mother, because I had to call the ambulance for my dad and he was placed on the same COVID unit as my mother had been," Young says.

Young says her sister was taken off a ventilator and is on the road to recovery.

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