‘I never got a goodbye’: Lenoir Rhyne baseball player loses both parents to COVID-19

HICKORY, N.C. — A local college student is mourning the deaths of his parents, who succumbed to COVID-19 -- but the people around him are stepping up to make sure he doesn’t feel alone.

Andy Lopez attends Lenoir Rhyne University where he is a member of the Bears baseball team.

He proudly wears the shirt his father’s coworkers made after the Chicago police dispatcher died from COVID-19 in November. Weeks later, his mother, who was also hospitalized with the virus, died.

Lopez told Channel 9 he will never forget arriving home last fall, unable to talk with his father.

“I never got a goodbye from my father, you know,” he said. “And over Facetime my mom had to say her goodbye because she was still on a breathing mask and I was able to talk with her for five seconds, and I told my mom I love her and I miss her.”

Lopez’s parents were 58 and 56 years old when they died from the virus.

His older brother and sister were worried Lopez wouldn’t be able to finish college but after returning to the school, he found support from both his baseball team and his friends.

“Throughout my day, it’s hard,” Lopez told Channel 9. “I think about it every second of every day. But my team helps me. We have long hours of practice and games, so it helps a lot.”

The community is also stepping up to help him finish school. A GoFundMe shared Lopez’s story and it has already raised more than $40,000.

Andy said the money will allow him to graduate next year and reach both his dream and that of his parents. He said he thinks he knows what they’re thinking.

“The people on earth are taking care of their baby because I’m the youngest,” he said. “I’m sure their hearts are full from seeing something like this.”