An 11-year-old boy with Down Syndrome from New Jersey finally got to hug his friend in church for the first time after a year of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Blaze reported that a video in Instagram posted by Erin Witkowski of her son, Grady, became viral in social media due to the tear-jerking scene it showed. The video showed Grady running toward another child, Katy Herridge, who excitedly embraced him. Herridge is shown swinging Grady around afterwards.

Witkowski documented their family's trip to Liquid Church located in Parsippany, New Jersey that they haven't been to for a year and a half due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Witkowski, who has three other children, narrated in her Instagram post that not a day passed that her son did not ask about going to church that "he calls home."

The video of the trip showed Grady very joyful as he anticipated their destination as he kept saying "OMGosh."

 

Grady getting excited to finally enter church  after a year of lockdowns due to the pandemic. (Erin Witkowski / Instagram)
Grady getting excited to finally enter church after a year of lockdowns due to the pandemic. (Erin Witkowski / Instagram)

"18 months ago was the last time we were able to go to church...Grady asked almost everyday for @liquidchurch and the today filming him pulling in today was heaven on earth...no time, distance or virus can erase the joy in his heart for a place he calls home...it's not the building but the hands and feet of Jesus that are alive within the walls, that make a seat at the table for kids like Grady and ALL people and abilities !!!" Witkowski said in her post last July 12.

 

"We know he was a handful today in kids church being that he's been out of routine/school for a year and half and his pure uncontainable excitement was in full display but we are so grateful for @liquidmorriscounty and giving Paul and I a chance to worship in person and a place to call home (now only if we can get a location in #sussexnj," she added.

In her succeeding post, which contained the video of Grady's reunion with Herridge, Witkowski announced, "Homecoming continues as Grady was reunited with his buddy at @liquidmorriscounty today !!!! @curlykaty2020 we <3 you !!!"

Witkowski revealed in an interview with Fox News that they live "really far away" from church but they go there since the congregation welcomes children with special needs -such that Grady has called it his "favorite place in the entire world." Liquid Church teams up children with special needs with a "buddy" so they can interact with other children while having a "great time" during worship.

"We drive a really far way because they make a place for any child--no matter what their needs or what their disability is--they make a way for those children to attend. Every child with special needs that goes there gets a buddy to be with them during children's service. It gives them the opportunity to be with the other children, have a great time, worship, and learn," Witkowski said.

Witkowski added that church is central to their family and that it is very helpful to Grady since he is accepted there. She describes each Sunday worship as a "little taste of heaven" because of the "acceptance and inclusion."

She said the church also provides Grady the exposure he needs in dealing with other people. More importantly, she stressed that it gives her other children the experience that their brother is "welcomed" and "really special."

"To see Grady and Katy reunited in such a beautiful [way] was epic! I feel like we get a little taste of heaven on Sunday morning in the form of acceptance and inclusion," Witkowski stated.