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Grand Blanc pastor survives coronavirus, but loses 17 friends to illness

A reminder as the holiday weekend approaches to not let up on health and safety measures. The number of COVID-19 cases in mid-Michigan is growing again.
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:19 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) -(7/1/2020) - "I thought I was gone. I was telling my wife that, you know, it was time, get ready, take me to the hospital, Pastor Courtney Avery said. "But I didn't have the strength to go. So the only thing I could do was lay in the bed. And as I laid in the bed and I prayed, I asked God for strength and to help me."

Pastor Avery is one of the first people in mid-Michigan to catch COVID-19. He tested positive in March.

He doesn't take his win against the coronavirus lightly.

"Sometimes we're left to testify," he explained. "There's always a witness. And so, I think that's my job, is to be that witness and say it's real and it affects you."

At last count, the longtime pastor and chaplain for Grand Blanc Community Schools athletics has lost 17 people to the virus. The friends who passed away were fellow pastors, along with one of their son's 20-year-old Freddie Brown III.

"My friends were calling; and, I didn't want to answer those calls, because it always ended up with somebody else that just passed away," Avery said.

Freddie Brown III played for Grand Blanc's football team before graduating in 2018. As the chaplain, Avery knew him well.

When comforting Brown's former teammates through their grief, he asked them to not let his death be in vain.

"You may think that it's not cool to wear your mask; but you know, your friends want to see you tomorrow and they want to see you the next day, and they don't want to see you struggling and fighting for your last breath," Avery said.

He added it's hard not to get frustrated when you see people blatantly ignoring social distancing or going around in public without a mask. He's asking his community to not let up this holiday weekend.

“I understand the economical situations and, and all the decisions that our governors and politicians have to make; but, there’s decisions that are not in their hands. They’re in our hands and we have to make the right decisions to survive and make it,” he said.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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