A friendless boy whose mother appealed on Facebook for wishes for his upcoming birthday has been flooded with messages over 1.6 million as of Thursday.
The boy, Colin Cunningham, stays in Richland, a small town in the US state of Michigan. His mother Jennifer wants to keep the birthday page secret till his birthday on March 9, but may find it difficult as global media turned the spotlight on the family.
Colin suffers from a disorder similar to autism. Because of this, he does not have many friends at school. When his mother asked him about holding a birthday party, he told her that there was no point as he had no friends who would come for it.
This prompted Jennifer to post an appeal on Facebook for “encouraging words that would be better than a party”.
“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,” Jennifer wrote on the social media page on February 2.
This is how Colin’s mother describes him on the Facebook page: “He is in 5th grade, and his aspirations for life are to be either a pastor, a comedian or a missionary. He doesn’t really enjoy groups or activities but 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. His big obsession is Doctor Who.”
Within days she was feeling overwhelmed by the response. On February 9 the birthday wishes had crossed 10,000. “We’ve reached 10,000 likes! I can’t believe it, thank you to you all! We love all of you,” wrote Jennifer.
The floodgates had opened. On February 12, the likes and messages had hit one million. The Cunninghams had got themselves a post office box because there was a deluge of letters.
Scanning the Facebook page called “Happy Birthday Colin”, you can see that messages have come not only from emotional parents and children but also collective posts from schools and even a US Navy sailor, representing 318 students.
Jennifer is now worried because Colin is likely to get to know the secret. Some students in school have mentioned something to him, and he appears to have overheard teachers talking about it.
Letters arriving in mail are being hidden by the parents and they have stopped giving interviews to papers and TV stations.