There’s a little boy in Michigan who eats his lunch alone in the school office every day. He does that because none of the other kids at school want to be near him. His name is Colin, and he’s a great kid.
Colin turns 11 on March 9. In early February, his mother, Jennifer Cunningham, suggested throwing a birthday party. He nixed the idea. Why? He said it was pointless; he had no friends to invite. What mother could hear that rationale and not weep?
Colin suffers from a condition similar to Asperger’s syndrome. In many ways, it isolates him from others. According to his mother, the condition affects Colin’s behavior at school and causes him to have difficulty with social skills. Most kids stay away from him, while others pick on him. When that happens, Colin always asks the principal to not punish the offenders for it.
“Not once, despite everything he goes through every day, does he whine or complain about having to go to school,” said Jennifer on Colin’s page recently. “When I asked him why he said, ‘Because you’ve got [to] keep trying.’”
That’s one amazing little boy.
The Birthday Surprise That Went Insanely Viral
Jennifer decided to show her son that there are people out there who think he’s pretty special. On Feb. 2, she created a Facebook page called “Colin is Eleven.” Her first post said this:
I am Colin’s mom, I created this page for my amazing, wonderful, challenging son who is about to turn 11 on March 9th. Because of Colin’s disabilities, social skills are not easy for him, and he often acts out in school, and the other kids don’t like him. So when I asked him if he wanted a party for his birthday, he said there wasn’t a point because he has no friends.
He eats lunch alone in the office every day because no one will let him sit with them, and rather than force someone to be unhappy with his presence, he sits alone in the office. I thought, if I could create a page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words, that would be better than any birthday party.
Initially, the idea for the page wasn’t ambitious. It was intended for friends and family to post birthday greetings and perhaps to pass on the link to another friend or two. What actually happened was incredible.
With lightning speed, social media sharing turned Jennifer’s simple request into a worldwide Internet phenomenon. A mere 10 days after establishing the birthday page for Colin, a staggering one million people had liked it on Facebook. Six days after that, there were two million likes. By the time you read this, that number is guaranteed to be even higher.
That’s not all, though. People clamored for a way to send cards and gifts to Colin. In response, Jennifer opened a post office box and has posted the address on the Facebook page. The photo below will give you some idea of the number of cards and packages that are now flooding in every day:
The best part of all is that Colin has no idea any of this is happening – yet. His parents are keeping everything a secret until his birthday on March 9. When they finally reveal it all to him, they’ve promised to post a video of his reaction. Well wishers can’t wait to see it.
The World Wants Colin to Know He‘s Special and He‘s Loved
Take some time to read through the birthday greetings that are piling up on Colin’s birthday page. They tell a fascinating story about people from all walks of life who are moved by his story.
You’ll see messages from the entire staffs of police and fire departments, whole school classes, grandmothers, sorority students, a professional comedian, uniformed military members, and more. Many are posting video greetings or photos of themselves holding signs with messages for Colin.
From a missionary in Mongolia to fans in Russia, India, Taiwan, Canada and Angola, people everywhere are responding from the heart. One man simply wrote, “This post just made a 6’5″ 240lbs grown man cry.”
“Colin was telling me all the people from countries all over the world that he has ‘met’ via friend codes on his [Nintendo] DS,” Jennifer said. “I was dying to tell him about the thousands of people all over the world that know his name because of this page, but we have a month to go yet till his birthday, so I kept it in.”
Colin‘s Story as a Teachable Moment
“I am overwhelmed and overjoyed by all the love, support and birthday wishes coming from all over the world for my little man,” posted Jennifer on Feb. 18, the day the page hit two million likes.
Watch a brief video that his family recently shot of Colin en route to an occupational therapy appointment:
Nice kid, right? Fans of the animated movie “Up” will recognize Colin’s cute references to the squirrel.
“My favorite part of this whole thing has been the messages from parents and teachers who have told me they used Colin’s story to talk to their kids,” Jennifer posted. “And the kids are responding, and realizing that ostracizing someone is wrong, and that they can make a difference. I love that! We love you all, and we can’t wait to share Colin’s birthday with all of you!”
It’s not too late to join the world in wishing a happy birthday to this special boy. Go like his Facebook page or mail him a card. This is an event he’ll remember for the rest of his life. Don’t you want to be a part of it, too?
Photo credit: All photos courtesy Happy Birthday Colin Facebook page / Jennifer Cunningham