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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The elderly are most at risk during the coronavirus pandemic, but a 99-year-old Illinois woman has beaten the odds and returned home to cheers.

Betty Jane Draper, of Springfield, returned home Wednesday and was greeted by family members and friends, who lined the streets and cheered at her arrival, WICS-TV reported.

“It feels wonderful — no place like home,” Draper told old The State Journal-Register from her Springfield home.

Homemade signs, reading “Draper strong” and “99! Stronger than COVID-19!” greeted Draper as she arrived home, WICS reported.


“We wanted to have the biggest homecoming for her that we could,” Draper’s granddaughter, Kim Draper, told WICS.

“Everybody cheered,” Draper’s youngest son, 57-year-old Sam Draper, told The State Journal-Register of Springfield. “It was just a happy moment.

“She had a few rough days, but she’s just a trooper, and she kicked its butt, basically.”

Betty Draper was admitted to a hospital two weeks ago after testing positive for COVID-19, WICS reported. Despite her age, she did not need a ventilator, according to The State Journal-Register.

Sam Draper said because of coronavirus restrictions, no one was allowed to visit the hospital. However, Betty Draper was given access to an iPad and was able to see and talk with family members, the newspaper reported.

“My mom is full of faith and grace and wisdom and is just a wonderful person with the attitude that we all should have,” Sam Draper told The State Journal-Register. “When she wasn’t feeling well, she told me, ‘If it is my time to go, the Lord will take me, and if it’s not, he will make me better.'”

Betty Draper will celebrate her 100th birthday in September. Her family is thrilled she is home and feeling better.

“For her to beat COVID-19 at 99, it’s amazing because in the news, we’ve only been hearing the bad side of it,” Kim Draper told WICS. “For everyone to be able to see (that) at 99, it can be beat, is just emotional to me.”

Sam Draper said he is even more excited to spend time with his mother again.

“I’m going to hug her for a long time because I really miss that from my mother,” he told WICS.