12-year-old geography buff stuck at home flooded with birthday wishes from around the world

Elena Sheppard
·3 min read
A boy who asked for birthday wishes received responses from across the globe. (Photo: Getty Images stock)
A boy who asked for birthday wishes received responses from across the globe. (Photo: Getty Images stock)

When Jody Smith sent out a tweet on Saturday asking for help celebrating his son’s 12th birthday while the family self-isolates, he never could have anticipated the massive response he received. “This is my son, Brandon,” Smith tweeted. “Today is his 12th birthday. I can’t give him the party he deserves but Brandon loves geography. He would love it if you would RT or reply where you are so he can mark it on his map.”

“I thought, well, I can maybe reach out to Twitter and get 50 or 100 people to tell him where they’re from,” Smith tells Yahoo Lifestyle about his idea for a virtual celebration. “I thought maybe we’ll fill up some of the states, or part of Canada.” Fast-forward a few hours and Smith’s tweet was the top trending topic on Twitter, with over 100,000 people sending Brandon birthday wishes along with their location to track on his hand-drawn map.

“It was overwhelming. Just really incredible,” Smith says. “He’s been really excited about it.”

Brandon tracked replies from Guatemala, Australia and everywhere in between. “He’s such a whiz with geography, he’ll know approximately where Buenos Aires might be,” Smith says. “Quite a few [places] we’ve actually had to look up on his iPad, but hey, for him any excuse to actually use his iPad is a good one.”

“When Tasmania came in that was kind of exciting for him. And Conception Island, halfway between Africa and South America in the middle of the Atlantic, was pretty exciting,” Smith says. “But the coup de grâce came this morning when he got a live video from Antarctica. That’s not going to be topped I don’t think.”

As for why Smith thinks this struck such a global chord, the dad says, “With what’s going on in the world right now and everyone stuck at home and it’s nothing but discouraging news, I think something really resonated with people about doing something simple and positive.”

As for Brandon, he’s been tracking all of the places that come in on his homemade map.

“It’s his last birthday where he’s just a kid, next year he’ll be a teenager,” Smith reflects. “I’m really tickled that his last real innocent birthday as a kid was something that transcended everything and became so exciting for so many people.”

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