MEMPHIS, Tennessee —
It is graduation time. With things being a little different, people have found some creative ways to honor their loved ones. It hurts to spend years working towards a goal like graduating and not being able to have a physical ceremony. One company has found a way to make celebrations special.
"I am the mother of DeAundre' Nelson, the aunt of Alexsis Brandon," said Loyce Shelley, University of Memphis graduate's mother.
"I think that's too much Loyce," said Joyce Brandon, another UofM graduate's mother.
"Oh I'm sorry, I'm mom," said Loyce.
Joyce and Loyce are twins.
"Not only are we twins, but our kids are like brothers and sisters. We never would have imagined that they would be graduating on the same day," said Joyce.
Their children are graduating from the same school as well, the University of Memphis.
"We're event planners and we had already planned the part, had a full set design, had the venue. You name it," said Loyce.
Then, the coronavirus spread across the world.
"We were like, 'Wait a minute. What are we going to do?' All of a sudden, we were in our client's shoes," said Loyce.
A company called Tribute.co came to the rescue.
"As humans, we have this fundamental need to connect. Right now because we're honoring social distance for the time being, you can't do it physically, so Tribute is a very powerful way for people to celebrate their friends and family members," said Andrew Horn, Tribute.co Co-Founder and CEO.
In three steps, it invites, collects, and compiles videos celebrating loved ones. In an hour and a half-long video, UofM families honored their graduates.
"It was so surreal the fact that you thought of something like this to capture a moment for us and to not let it go unnoticed or under the rug because of all that's going on around the country," said Joyce.
"It was really like giving a person their flowers while they're still alive," said Loyce. "Being able to reflect on what our children meant to them, their accomplishments and everything, I know what it made me feel. My first video out of 18 takes, I started crying."
They had tears of joy sparked by a company with a worldwide heart.
"I feel it in my heart hearing them talk about it. It's number one. Hearing you talk about how much love you have for your children and how proud you are of them, it's amazing to hear that and be a part of that," said Horn.
Tribute normally charges $25 for their service, but made it free for those impacted by the virus. They have created more than 500,000 videos across the world since its start six years ago.