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A birthday touchdown | East Forsyth High football players, law enforcement throw surprise parade for teen with autism

“It was cool,” Timothy Tolley said while remembering the players who showed up for this big day.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Timothy Tolley loves football. He’s probably the biggest East Forsyth High football fan in the entire school. He’s been to every football game since he was 6 years old.

“It’s fun to watch and play football,” the rising East Forsyth High freshman said.  

Timothy, who has autism, knows all the players. He can name them and their jersey numbers. He also wants to one day be a firefighter.

He loves the fire service and law enforcement. So, when it came time to celebrate his 14th birthday during a pandemic, his parents knew they needed lots of backup. That’s when the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Kernersville police and fire departments stepped up, and in a big way. After all, they needed lots of backup!

Credit: Tolley Family
Timothy Tolley wants to be a firefighter one day in the future.

William and Charlene Tolley got to work on planning Timothy’s joint birthday with his stepsister, Emilee Rivera.

It included a surprise birthday entourage vehicle parade and a socially distant celebration.

Timothy’s dad and stepmom contacted all the departments and together they cooked up a birthday surprise like no other for their kids.

“He was shocked,” Timothy’s dad, William Tolley said.

“He had no clue until we started videotaping on our phones,” his stepmom, Charlene Tolley said.

Soon, the fire trucks rounded the corner.

“It was the first thing he noticed. He said, ‘See the fire trucks?'" Charlene Tolley said.

“It was amazing,” Timothy Tolley said.

The amazement continued to build as even the East Forsyth High football players joined in on the surprise and celebration. After all, he is one of their biggest fans!

Credit: Tolley Family
East Forsyth High football players surprise Timothy Tolley for his birthday.

“It was cool,” Timothy Tolley said while remembering the players who showed up for this big day.

However, the icing on the cake perhaps was the cake itself. His birthday cake featured a photo of the East Forsyth High football team.

Credit: Tolley Family
Timothy Tolley's birthday cake featured a photo of the East Forsyth High football team.

Another birthday highlight was the amount of law enforcement including sheriff deputies, highway patrol, police officers, and firefighters who took part in the birthday parade.

They sounded their vehicle alarms and sirens while rounding the neighborhood.

“They went above and beyond. They showed up and showed out,” Charlene Tolley said.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office posted photos of the birthday celebration on its Facebook page.

“We had the pleasure of throwing a birthday parade for Timothy! Fourteen-year-old Timothy has autism and was super excited about all the agencies who came together to help him celebrate. Join us in wishing Timothy a very Happy Birthday,” the post read.

Credit: Forsyth County Sheriff's Office
Forsyth County Sheriff's Office helps surprise Timothy Tolley for his birthday.

“We’re extremely appreciative and want to thank everyone for coming out and showing their support. We want to raise awareness for autism. We’re blessed and very thankful for everything that they did,” Charlene Tolley said.

The Tolley family also wanted to give a very special thank you to the East Forsyth High football team and to the players who rallied around Timothy for his birthday.