Visalia radio host sings Christmas carols for loyal listener who tested COVID-positive

Lillian Flores has been a frequent caller to Mike Pesto's radio show during the lonely months of the pandemic.
VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- One of Mike Pesto's most loyal listeners is Lillian Flores, a resident at Westgate Gardens Care Center in Visalia.

She's also a frequent caller, with a sharp sense of humor.

"Her laugh is contagious and the stuff that she comes up with that she'll hear me say on the air, and then put her own spin on them, is just priceless," said Pesto, host of My 97.5's morning show.

But last week, Flores called Pesto with some bad news: she tested positive for COVID-19.

Within days, staff at Westgate Gardens and the radio station were able to set up a special event to express their support.

On Thursday, Pesto and his family sang Christmas carols outside Flores' room.

"I feel awesome, I feel like I'm in Hollywood," Flores told Action News after the singing stopped.

Residents of long-term care facilities across the country have been cut off from traditional visits with loved ones during the pandemic.

Lillian often sees her family members through her window, but says it's not the same.

"Lots of times I feel heartbroken when they have to turn around and leave, and leave me here," she said. "The tears come after they leave but I get over it."

Lillian admits she feels lonely at times.

But she knows she can count on her caretakers at Westgate Gardens to lift her spirits and help her beat COVID-19.

They've become her family, and so has the team at My 97.5.

Pesto's wife Cesca said Thursday's caroling was a teachable moment for their children.

"Gifts aren't just about physically buying something," she said. "And you know, think about others, not just yourself, and just be a good, kind person."

"It's so great to see the community come together and support our residents and Lillian definitely deserves all of the love that she gets this Christmas season as do the rest of the residents," said Westgate Gardens Administrator Benjamin Carter.

Carter says they expect to receive their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in January, and is looking forward to the day that indoor visits can resume.

Lillian says she's feeling good and is close to recovering from the coronavirus.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.