A young boy in Washington state got the surprise of a lifetime when nearly 100 people showed up to his birthday party on Sunday where he expected a guest count of zero.
It all started when the 12-year-old’s mother met a man named Mike Ellis on World Homeless Day two years ago. She told him her story of escaping domestic violence and finding her way to the streets and shelters of Spokane with her two boys. Now, Ellis explains to Yahoo Lifestyle that the family of three has been doing well and even moved into an apartment thanks to the support of local charities.
But when Ellis saw a Facebook post on the mom’s page explaining that her son’s new classmates decided they wouldn’t attend his first-ever birthday party, he knew that he needed to get involved.
“I reached out to [his mom] and told her what my insane idea was, and she said, “Absolutely,’” he explained. “So I just put a Facebook post that told the brief story about the boy and then [asked] how many of my Facebook friends would show up for a party?”
A month later, the boy was driven to a local restaurant on a party bus to find that it was filled with people who wanted to celebrate him.
“The majority of the people there had never met the mom, had never met the boy, had never seen them or knew who they were until [Sunday]. And they were just touched by the story,” Ellis says. “The reason why so many people responded was because they either were that boy, or knew somebody like that boy.”
People throughout Spokane volunteered their services and donated what they could —from the venue, to a homemade Harry Potter cake, to brand-new Nike sneakers — for the family. Some even sent cards and gifts from out of state. While the mother cried tears of joy a few times during the day, Ellis was also moved to tears by seeing the family’s reaction to the community’s generosity.
“They were overwhelmed, overjoyed, they were absolutely blown away by it,” Ellis said. “I really believe that yesterday changed the lives of the mom and those two boys.”
Ellis said that the event might have also changed lives throughout the community as well.
“What I know is that when you find that one thing that a lot of people can agree upon, they’ll work together to accomplish it,” he said. “And yesterday, a whole lot of people came together because they agreed that a little boy that felt rejected and lonely and disappointed and heartbroken deserved a birthday party — and there’s not too many people that can disagree about that.”
Now Ellis is committed to showing that kindness is contagious, as proven by the birthday boy who brought cupcakes from his party to the classmates who had initially rejected him.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
• The story behind this 6-year-old’s birthday party photo might break your heart
• ‘We don’t want all the attention’: Mother of 6-year-old boy whose birthday party guests were all no-shows speaks out
• Boy with autism still has ‘the best day ever,’ after friends ditch his birthday party