Son gets special welcome to kindergarten after mom dies of COVID-19

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:48 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 11:26 PM EDT
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HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (WYFF) - Tuesday was a big day for the family of WYFF News 4′s Chief Meteorologist Chris Justus.

His nephew started kindergarten today after losing his mother to COVID-19. Justus had recently shared that his sister-in-law passed away after a hard-fought battle with the virus.

While Grayson Justus’ mother couldn’t walk her son into Edneyville Elementary School Tuesday morning, the Henderson County community made sure he didn’t feel alone.

A sea of flashing lights, a cheering crowd, and the Clemson Tiger escorted Grayson Justus into his first day of kindergarten.

“You know, obviously this isn’t going to replace his mother being here to walk him into the school, but this just showed Grayson how many people have his back and are going to be there to support him from now until the rest of his life,” said Cory Justus, Grayson’s father.

Members of the Hendersonville Fire Department, City Police, Saluda Fire Rescue, and the Henderson County Sheriff’s office helped line the entrance of the school.

Cory Justus, who lost his wife, Brianna Justus, has been part of the sheriff’s office for more than 10 years.

“Today just kind of showed that presence of community that has really surrounded me over the last couple of weeks, surrounded my boys, and really made this day special because this was a special day for my wife and a special day for Grayson, who is starting kindergarten,” Cory Justus added.

Earlier this month, Brianna Justus was hospitalized at 30 weeks pregnant after testing positive for COVID-19.

The 31-year-old ended up giving birth, to the couple’s third child, by an emergency C-section. The family says the baby, Logan Justus, is happy and healthy.

However, Brianna Justus passed away a week later.

“I hope they remember how involved she was and how intentional she was. She made every day about her boys and making each day the best that it can be, and I hope that continues for all of them,” Cory Justus added.

Before Brianna Justus became sick, the Clemson alum was busy planning for her son’s first day of school. The family said she wanted it to be special.

It was because of that planning that Grayson received a special gift in the mail, just before starting school.

“She had given him several options online for backpacks and he had picked this backpack out and then it came, kind of after the fact, and then seeing that-- it was almost like a gift from his mother, because it was after the fact. He was really taken by that and was very thankful that he had that. That backpack is going to be really special to him,” Cory Justus said.

As the father and son walked hand-in-hand, the dark-blue backpack could be seen on Grayson’s back, swaying down the halls of his new school.

“It was very exciting; he is a very outgoing kid and he loves making friends and he loves being involved, so after he gets used to this transition he will have a good day,” The father said.

This is a new beginning for Grayson, but it’s being built upon by the legacy of his loving mother and strong family.

“She was a very intentional mother; she was a stay-at-home mom, she really just poured everything that she had into our boys to start a strong foundation to start their lives with,” said Cory Justus.

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