Happy Birthday Colin is one of the hottest Facebook pages out today. Colin Cunningham, an 11 year old boy from Richmond, Michigan who suffers from a sensory processing disorder, similar to Asperger’s syndrome, recently told his mother “he didn’t want a party for his birthday this year because he has no friends. He eats lunch alone in the school office every day, though he said lately, one other boy has joined him.”
Colin’s mother, Jennifer Cunningham, decided to create a “Happy Birthday Colin” Facebook page back in February, hoping to get some birthday wishes for her son. What she got was an explosion of supporters from all over the globe, according to the Detroit Free Press report on March 10.
As of this date, Colin has 2.1 million likes and 78,000 letters and packages; including a letter from the pop artist Andy Warhol’s nephew, who took the time to write a personal note telling them that, “Andy didn’t have friends growing up, either, and look what he became.”
Colin was unaware for weeks of the Facebook page and all the letters and packages streaming in, or how popular he was becoming. When Colin appeared on Good Morning America, he thought he was going to be testing video games, but soon discovered the real reason he was there, to learn about the millions of “friends” he now had through social media.
Colin spent his birthday in “grand style” as he and his family celebrated at Walt Disney World in Florida. He is now back home in Michigan, and saw for the first time on Monday, all the gifts and letters that well-wishers had sent. These gifts also represent a bigger picture, one that includes “every child who is quirky, or different – bullied or excluded.”
“I’d like to thank every one of the 2.1 million – all of you – to say thank for doing this for me,” Colin said, “It’s awesome that people can change things just by sending a letter.”
Jennifer Cunningham replied to some of the changes that have taken place, “For me, a really unexpected, wonderful outcome of this has been that I get letters and messages from parents, Sunday school teachers, Cub Scout leaders, Girl Scout leaders, just everybody who deals with kids saying, “We’re using this as a lesson,” Cunningham said.
Jennifer Cunningham hopes the lesson learned is that when you see someone who is different from you or your children, maybe even acting out, to teach your children compassion, not exclusion. It’s easy to spot those with physical needs, such as crutches or in a wheelchair, but it's different when they have “invisible challenges.”
It’s an easy lesson for us to learn, and all from “a little boy who simply wanted what any child wants: friends.”