Community unites for unforgettable birthday parade

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

RESERVE — In a heartwarming display of compassion, the St. John the Baptist Parish community united to throw an unforgettable parade for a local child with special needs on his 13th birthday.

Diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, Kash Warren has never enjoyed a traditional birthday party. The “Happy Birthday” song is overstimulating and throws him into a panic, but he’s always amazed his family with his love for Mardi Gras parades.

Williams Syndrome is characterized by mild to moderate intellectual disability or learning problems, unique personality characteristics, distinctive facial features, and cardiovascular problems. According to Kash’s mother, Kristy Doster, the condition also comes with a love for music and people.

His family has brought him to parades since he was an infant, and it’s been beautiful to see how his personality blossoms once the firetrucks and dance groups come rolling down the street. The boisterous bands are his favorite part, along with the bead and trinket throws. He seems to have a sixth sense to know when Mardi Gras is approaching, even when no one has told him. Even outside of Mardi Gras festivities, Kash watches videos of truck parades on YouTube daily.

This year, Kash’s family decided to combine his love for parades with his milestone 13th birthday celebration.

“When his birthday approaches every year, we have a really hard time trying to figure out how to celebrate since the other kids in the family get amazing parties. He just doesn’t enjoy a whole lot of people singing ‘Happy Birthday,’” Doster said. “So, one day while he was watching YouTube, I said let’s do a parade, and I brought the idea up to some friends and family.”

Kash’s aunt, Lesley Doster, brought the idea to a St. John Parish talk group on Facebook at the encouragement of her life group sisters at Celebration Church.

“I was surprised how immediately, that same day, everyone came together and started helping me,” Lesley Doster said. “Kash lives for parades, and we wanted to do something very special for him on his birthday because everyone else has had special birthdays except for Kash.”

Kash’s bus aide and para teacher at LaPlace Elementary, Brooke Cashio Price and Tina Galloway Edler, made it their mission to make the birthday parade a community-wide event.

On June 23, the St. John Sheriff’s Office, fire trucks, ambulances, several motorcycle groups, and plenty of individual cars rolled through the streets of Reserve with fun Mardi Gras style throws in honor of Kash’s birthday. Participation from the SJSO was particularly touching as Kash is the grandson of Sherman Walker, one of St. John Parish’s fallen officers.

“He loved it so much, he keeps asking for my phone so that he can watch the video over and over,” Kristy Doster said. “He was really excited and keeps repeating the story over and over how all his friends showed up for his parade.”

She added, “We really enjoyed seeing so many faces.”

During the parade, Kash was joined by classmate Chloe Naquin, who also celebrated her birthday on June 23 and enjoyed the assortment of throws.