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Northeast Ohio family hugs for first time in over a year

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The Smiths live just 10 miles away from their grandchildren. After more than a year, they finally got to hug them again.

TWINSBURG, Ohio — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many found themselves missing interactions with people– friends, family, co-workers –more than anything else.

For some people, the pandemic has made it impossible to see loved ones in person in over a year. 

But here at 3News, we are bringing you reunions – finally! 

As more people get vaccinated, we’re excited to celebrate the long-awaited reunions of so many, including the Smith family of Solon and the Bellans of Twinsburg.

RELATED: Feel The Love: Show us videos and photos of your safe reunions with loved ones

Kathy and Larry Smith live just 10 miles away from their grandsons, Grayson, Crew and Link Bellan. But at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it didn’t much matter if it was 10 minutes in distance or 10 hours separating them. They didn’t embrace for more than a year.

“We were all so worried about getting sick and getting terrible symptoms so we thought we’d be cautious,” Kathy said. 

“We’d get together outside or in our garage in corners and wearing all masks,” her husband Larry added.

Crew, one of the couple’s grandsons, said the holidays were particularly tough on the family.

“It was really weird having Christmas in the garage and sitting in the garage with masks on in individual chairs.” 

But no hugs for a family used to embracing all of the time.

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Through more than a year of distanced and masked gatherings– and a few too many zoom calls– the Bellan kids missed their grandparents. 

So, after Kathy and Larry got vaccinated, the countdown to two weeks after that second dose started. Lucky for the family, that day fell on Easter Sunday.

Kathy and Larry’s daughter Amanda, the boys’ mom, is a photographer and was ready to capture the priceless moments on film. 

“I was just so happy,” said youngest grandson Link. “Because I was able to hug them and I could.”

Kathy told 3News that hugging the boys felt a little different after a year apart.

“When we finally did hug, I couldn’t get over how much taller they were than me!”

It’s a moment the family says that they’ll cherish – and one Amanda hopes to never live without, ever again. 

“I’m glad that we are done,” she said. “I hope this is behind us.”

Do you have a great reunion story to share? We want to hear it! 

Send in your videos and pictures to our 3News team using one of the methods below. 

Text us your reunion content to (216) 344-3300, or use the WKYC app’s “Near Me” feature. You can also share any photos or videos to social media, and get our attention by using #ReunionsOn3. 

RELATED: 3News viewers share their best photos and videos of reuniting with family and friends: Feel the Love

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