One of the best things about the Facebook community is the opportunity for complete strangers to come together for a good reason, united in purpose, to share love for a child who is hurting. When the innovative new Newspop (internet news source especially for kids) Facebook page post popped up in my news feed, I had to click on it to see more. There a compelling, one-inch photo of a smiling young man in the profile photo was all that previewed the Facebook community page, “Happy Birthday Colin.”
Started on Feb. 2, 2014, as of Feb. 17, this page has amassed 1,986,328 likes. How word spread and Colin’s story involves faith in the kindness of complete strangers for a young man “who didn’t want a birthday party because he had no friends.” Additional information was revealed as Colin’s mom shared in later posts that he has “been diagnosed with issues similar to Asperger syndrome.”
The Los Angeles Times had helped the movement gain speed early by sharing the story: “Mom creates Facebook page to show boy he’s not alone.” Clicking on the link, there’s a message for the “Coliniseleven” community page:
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 everyday 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. So 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. Please join me in making my very original son feel special on his day.
A mother’s love motivated her to take action in behalf of her son. A mother’s pain urged her to take action to fix this problem in her boy’s life. A mother’s faith caused her to reach out for help and support to let him know that he was not alone, that he was special and deserving of all the love in the world. She started a simple Facebook community page, with a simple “Happy Birthday” banner and his school picture, describing the page’s purpose as:
A page created to help a mom wish her son a Happy 11th Birthday. His birthday is March 9th.
And, her wish for Colin’s 11th birthday to be special has gone viral. One Facebook poster noted the Google Search link simply titled “Colin birthday” reflects how quickly this effort of hope has flourished, on the wings of love and cyberspace. On Feb. 11, the London, UK Daily Mail shared the story of the Facebook page “Lonely boy now has 13,000 new friends after mom created Facebook page.” From one friend, to 13,000 friends nine days later, to close to 2,000,000 friends 16 days later, such is the power of the Internet.
But that’s not all. In addition to all the people from around the world posting birthday greetings on Colin’s page, which is a total surprise to him (he has no idea about this page or the mail deluge), his parents are going to the Richland, Michigan post office to collect the trays of cards that have been mailed and presents that have been sent from around the world, addressed simply to:
PO Box 756
Richland, MI 49083-0756
The outreach goes far beyond a simple “Like” click and a package or card mailed in advance of his birthday. Two days ago, soliders in the U.S. army filmed a video wishing him a happy birthday and words of encouragement. Sorority sisters of Alpha Xi Delta at Indiana University made a video for Colin that will make him smile. Just down the road from Houston, the Rosenberg Police Department in Rosenberg, Texas sent a customized video message, “Happy Birthday from your friends at Rosenberg Police,” and the entire police department is smiling, waving and yelling “Happy Birthday Colin!” The story has been included in the Hindustani Times; just click on Facebook, read the posts, and become immersed with the pure, unselfish love being shared.
Equally as important as the international accolades, there are posts from others who have grown up facing what Colin is dealing with. One post on Feb. 11 on the "Happy Birthday Colin" page stands out:
Oscar Dufrene Happy birthday buddy from the lil Cajun town of Golden Meadow, Louisiana. I was diagnosed with Aspergers when i was 12, going on 23 and havent let anything stop me!
Just as one voice can make a difference, the swelling chorus of affirmation, love, faith, and sharing such collective joy will surely make an impact in Colin’s life come March 9. His mother and now other family members, including cousins, manage the Facebook page. They’re clearly overwhelmed by the love of strangers, and they continue to faithfully post updates and photos of all the mail coming into Richland, Michigan.
The Los Angeles Times story also noted another of Colin’s mom’s updates:
He is in 5th grade, and his aspirations for life are to be either a Pastor, a comedian or a missionary. ... He's very active in our church, he's the self-appointed greeter and opens the door for each person as they come to church. Colin loves his Nintendo 3DS, and Pokemon.
Thanks to Newspop for helping to give this story even more “wings.” Especially when it's children under 13 who can see this story, they'll surely be inspired to act kindly towards students they may know in their own schools. Perhaps if just one child seeks out another to be a friend because that child has no friends, then the pain that Colin has endured in his earliest years will have been for some reason: to make a difference for others. As one poster said on the Facebook page, “Colin is going to be opening birthday cards until he turns 12.” No doubt. For the child so willing to open church doors to welcome worshipers into God’s house, it seems like a mother’s prayer has found a heavenly answer, for Colin, with love.