Carter County community gathers to light up Ardmore Mercy Hospital, support medical workers

Sierra Rains
Several Carter County community members lined up at the Ardmore Mercy Hospital Thursday night to show their support for local healthcare workers. Drivers flashed their lights, honked their horns and held up signs to show their appreciation.

Ardmore Mercy Hospital was lit up with bright headlights and flashing colors of red and blue Thursday night as Carter County community members gathered to show their support for health care workers.

A woman at the front of the building serenaded the crowd with a worship song and health care workers still in their scrubs gathered beside her to watch. The display ignited the sound of car horns and police sirens, which echoed through the lot as if simulating cheers from the crowd.

“I’m so honored and blessed to be a part of this community, so right now lift your voices and lift your lights and let this community know that we are not alone and that we will stand together,” Impact Ardmore Executive Director Misty Apala told the crowd.

The entire parking lot was filled with community members and first responders from the Ardmore Police Department, Carter County Sheriff’s Office and Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Service.

And it all began with a phone call. Apala said she initially reached out to local law enforcement, telling them, “‘Hey, I have an idea. I’d like to put it into place and I don’t want to do it without you’.”

The answer to her request was a resounding yes, she said, and the idea took off from there.“They said, ‘Absolutely’. If there were no calls going on they would totally be there.”

Impact Ardmore volunteers had already been working to spread hope and blessings around the community by leaving messages for first responders and medical personnel in chalk throughout town.

However, with an influx of rainy weather coming in this week Apala said this seemed like a creative way to bring the community together— one that wouldn’t wash away.

“I saw that other smaller communities were doing something similar to this, so I got with my team and I was like ‘I think we can do this, I think we can make it big and I think we can be so inclusive that we’re able to touch all of the first responders and medical and law enforcement at one time,” Apala said.

As the event, entitled Headlights for Hope, gained more attention Apala said she invited the Southern Oklahoma Ambulance Service to participate as well and the community in general prepared to gather in astoundingly large amounts.

“I believe that people are looking for a safe way to get out and create memories and to also be a part of the blessings that are taking place across our community,” Apala said, regarding the large attendance.

Though it may have seemed like a small task to drive to the hospital and turn your headlights on, the impact was huge, Apala said.

Lights could be seen from every window of the hospital, showing those who are working extended amounts of hours and all through the night that the community cares and is supporting them in an uncertain and stressful time.

“The impact overall and the willingness of everyone to come together, I just think it’s amazing. I love our city,” Apala said. “I think Ardmore is a great community and I’m just honored to be a part of it.”