As a parent, a child’s birthday brings out dueling emotions. On one hand, it’s incredibly rewarding to see your kid happy and having a great time on their special day. But, on the other, it’s stressful to know that anything can go wrong at any time and derail the entire celebration.
A mother in Alabama recently faced that very scenario while trying to throw her daughter’s birthday party. When she mentioned her stresses to a local bakery owner, however, she and her daughter received a response no one could have expected.
Amy Bailey’s 13th birthday was right around the corner. As it was the official start of her teenage years, the date called for a sweet celebration. This birthday party, though, would be harder to plan than your average get-together.
Amy was autistic, which made birthday parties and other social occasions a lot less fun for those involved. In this case, there were two particular hang ups that the family had to contend with.
The first problem was the party itself. Autism frequently manifests itself as a dislike of certain sensory experiences; loud noises, unfamiliar sights, like those at a party, can cause particular issues.
Worse, the last time Amy’s mom, Kim, attempted to organize a birthday party for her daughter, no one showed up. After all the build-up, Amy was crushed; the family swore it would never happen again. But this milestone birthday needed some form of celebration.
There had to at least be a cake, so Kim called up Savage’s Bakery in Homewood, Alabama. Speaking with co-owner Elizabeth Scott, Kirkpatrick began to spell out exactly what she wanted on a special birthday cake.
Jando S/ Yelp
The cake, Kirkpatrick explained, had to be covered with a veritable field of blossoms. Her daughter was “obsessed” with colorful flowers, so the more that she could add to the cake, the better.
Growing up on a farm, Amy had a special affinity for chickens. Even if they didn’t make it onto the cake, they had to be included somehow. Beyond the decorating details, the two women also discussed something much more important.
Kim shared Amy’s birthday party woes and Elizabeth was immediately moved. As a baker, she new how to make an occasion extra special with some sweet treats. She proposed a plan to bring an extra surprise to the party, too.
Before long, the big moment had arrived. When Amy excitedly got up in the morning, she had no idea what would happen as the day unfolded.
Kim drove her daughter to Savage’s Bakery, but they were not going to simply pick up a cake. For some reason, a bounce house and corn hole games were waiting outside of the store. There were more surprises to come.
There were also kids everywhere! And this wasn’t any old carnival or street fair: everything was there for Amy’s birthday. But how had this all come together?
An open invitation was shared on the bakery’s Facebook page, and the community responded. Boys and girls from all over the state had come to celebrate Amy. Elizabeth didn’t just stop at the party, either.
She also contacted KultureCity, a non-profit that helps make stressful public spaces and events accommodating for people with autism. They were touched by Amy’s story and decided to help out.
In addition to providing the party supplies, KultureCity sent a special sensory vehicle to ensure everyone was as having the best time possible. Amy was excited to check it out, but she never could have imagined what was inside.
It was full of accessories to keep the kids entertained and comfortable! From bean bag chairs and water features to textured walls and soft lighting, the space had everything Amy could want. She immediately sat down and quickly began holding court with her new friends.
As the day continued, guests kept arriving. They delivered gifts and played games with Amy; the situation could have been overwhelming, but she remained comfortable and happy. One of the gifts she received, however, blew her away.
Amy got a stuffed chicken to cuddle. As if that wasn’t enough, it even clucked when she squeezed it! This was enough to satisfy her birthday wishes, yet more presents lined the tables.
Amy was then invited inside the bakery to see how they made and decorated birthday cakes. There was a particularly special one that Savage’s chefs had been working on, however…
It was a rectangular sheet cake completely covered with wildflowers, except for one exposed patch. There, written in pink letters, was a message. “Happy Birthday Amy.” It was her cake!
Surrounded by new friends, Amy was able to blow out the candles on her cake and make a wish. While the cake tasted as good as it looked, the day wasn’t done. Amy still had one final gift to receive.
The entire day was planned to make Amy feel special and that’s exactly what it did. Birthdays are no longer a day to dread. “From here on out, if Amy wants to have a party here every year forever, then that’s what we’ll do,” her mom said.
Maybe next year, Amy could invite Teddy Mazzini to her party. The five-year-old knew what it was like to have a birthday go from bad to great, fast. See, when he turned six, his mom offered him several options to celebrate his birthday: Disneyland, Legoland, or a party with his classmates.
The birthday boy wanted to have his party at Peter Piper Pizza, a restaurant-arcade in Tucson, Arizona, near the Mazzini’s hometown. Similar to Chuck-E-Cheese, it was a popular spot for children’s birthday parties.
Sure his buds would stuff their faces with pizza and then turn to the bright and loud arcade games, Teddy convinced his mom that it was the perfect location for a party. She made the necessary reservations.
After inviting all 32 kids from his class at BASIS Tuscon Primary School, Teddy received over 15 RSVPs from different parents. Soon, everything was set, and he couldn’t wait for his party — especially because someone special would be attending.
Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star
Because he worked on an oil rig in Alaska, Teddy’s dad, Ted Bollinger, rarely saw his son. However, he insisted on making it home for his birthday and meeting all of Teddy’s friends.
On October 21, 2018, the day of the party had arrived. The restaurant was decorated with balloons and streamers, and 15 home-made goodie bags stuffed with toys, candy, and a thank-you-for-coming note sat on the tables. All that was left to do was wait for guests.
So Teddy and his parents waited. And waited. And waited. After 15 minutes, Teddy’s mom, Sil, figured there might be bad traffic. After 30 minutes, she figured she might have got the time wrong on the invites.
After more than an hour, the family had had enough. Not one of the 32 invited kids from Teddy’s class had shown up. Only one of the RSVPers called to apologize! Sil and Ted were heartbroken for their son.
One look at the look of disappointment on her son’s face inspired Sil to make things right for their son. Despite her husband’s objections, she hatched a scheme. The first step? Take a picture of disappointed Teddy.
Sil sent the picture of her son sitting all alone at the Peter Piper table and sent it to local news anchor and investigative reporter Nick Vinzant. Nick then used his platform at KVOA to put Teddy’s story in the spotlight.
Since most of the Tucson area follows Nick on social media, the sad picture of Teddy got a lot of feedback instantly — and some major players in the Tuscon area…
Officials with the Phoenix Rising, a soccer team in Phoenix, Arizona, invited him to the next game. The team, the officials said, would love to celebrate his 6th birthday with him.
Following the Phoenix Rising invite, NBA team the Phoenix Suns extended a similar invitation: Teddy could come to one of their games and celebrate his birthday. But Teddy wasn’t interested in the Suns…
However, as a massive LeBron James fan, the six-year-old was interested in the Sun’s opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers! A budding sports fan, he accepted the offer.
Cheerleaders and a gorilla celebrated Teddy and bequeathed him a crown and a Beat L.A. poster (which he probably hid when he saw LeBron James).
He was even gifted his own personalized basketball jersey! This was no ordinary birthday celebration for a 6-year-old anymore, but after having been hurt by every single one of his classmates, Teddy deserved to be spoiled and his smile was proof of his happiness.
Teddy wore the jersey as he met players from the Suns, and had the time of his life being the VIP guest at one of the biggest matches of the season.
He even got to sit side-by-side with the Phoenix Suns’ Josh Jackson and watch the game from a front-row seat! While it seems like a kid’s birthday couldn’t get any better, Teddy’s day wasn’t done.
DJ Khaled, known for his music career and Snapchat account, reposted the picture of Teddy with the caption “Bless up and happy birthday to the Young King Teddy! The Khaled Family, @asahdkhaled and the We The Best foundation want to send you a birthday present!”
AFP Photo/Frederick M. Brown
After the game, iHeartMedia’s local hip-hop station Hot 98.3 threw Teddy the party he had always wanted: a pizza and arcade games fest at Peter Piper Pizza! Teddy certainly looked happier in the pictures this time around.
right: Hot 98.3/Instagram
Despite regretting posting the photo due to so many negative comments towards the Mazzini family, Teddy and his parents were incredibly grateful to the kindness of the celebrities and other supportive social media users.
Why nobody attended Teddy’s original party was never revealed, but his classmates’ parents should have certainly known better. Thankfully, some Phoenix celebrities and athletes had their heart in the right place. As for his seventh birthday party? Well, maybe they’ll just take a trip.
As Teddy story taught us, the thrill of throwing a party often comes with a side of anxiety. And unfortunately, when things don’t fall in line, a happy celebration can quickly turn into a horrific heartbreak.
Mahlon Layne was always a lonely kid. He was quiet, shy, and homeschooled. Still, his parents described him as easygoing, always trying to make those around him smile. Who wouldn’t want to befriend a boy like that?
Because he was taught at home, Mahlon didn’t meet a lot of kids, but his loving family made up for that. Birthday parties were always family-only occasions… until he started to long for a couple of friends all his own.
When his 8th birthday party didn’t have the kind of turnout Mahlon had hoped for, his mother, Kirsten, assured him that next year would be different. He was going to move, attend public school, and make more friends than he could imagine!
A year passed and the green leaves of summer started to turn red. October arrived again, and Mahlon’s birthday was approaching. Still adjusting to public school life, he was ready to plan his first friends party.
There was no question about the theme — Mahlon was obsessed with the book series Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. He read each of the children’s novels over and over again and figured that his new peers loved it, too.
Even with the family finances on her mind, Kirsten ordered custom Diary of a Wimpy Kid party invitations. Mahlon excitedly handed them out to friends from his class and a kid from Tae Kwon Do. He couldn’t wait!
Ecstatically, Mahlon started counting down the days while his mom ordered a “Diary” cake topper, decorations, and games. Only six invitations went out, but he was convinced it would be an affair to remember.
All the while, Kirsten couldn’t shake a nagging sense of worry eating away at her excitement for her son — why had no one responded to the invitation’s request that all parents RSVP? Surely, they had just forgotten… right?
Before they knew it, the morning of the party arrived. Mahlon couldn’t contain his excitement. Without being asked, he helped his mom prepare for the party, blowing up balloons and setting up the games.
Meanwhile, Kirsten was doing her best to quell the anxiety that was bubbling up inside. She kept telling herself that everyone was running late, or maybe they were having difficulty finding the house.
Being new to the city, she didn’t have any of the other parents’ phone numbers, but she triple checked to make sure their contact info was correct. Meanwhile, Mahlon stood outside to watch as cars came up the street.
The night before, Kirsten confessed her concerns to her husband. However, he assured her that no one seems to RSVP anymore. “What kid doesn’t love a birthday party?” he said. “They’ll show up.”
Still, time went by and it wasn’t looking good. Mahlon began pacing, watching as each car kept driving past. By the time his dad pulled into the driveway with pizza, everyone realized the sad reality of the situation.
Mahlon, feeling defeated, sat quietly at the table he had so meticulously set only hours earlier. After consoling him, Kirsten called up her family members who immediately showed up to eat pizza and party the pain away.
By the time he was opening presents, the ever-optimistic Mahlon was smiling again. His grandpa even suggested they take the party over to the bowling alley, and Mahlon ended his day happily distracted.
Nevertheless, Kirsten couldn’t shake her frustration on behalf of her son. So, that night, she took to her blog. After detailing how the party for her son was disastrously derailed, she ended with a simple plea: parents, please RSVP.
The next day, it was time for Mahlon to go back to school. Putting on a happy face, he gathered up the goodie bags he’d prepared for his no-show partygoers. Naturally, this worried Kirsten, but she kept her mouth shut and drove him to school.
When Mahlon sat down in his classroom and opened his backpack to reveal the goodie-bags, the ditchers stared at him in shock. Was this a passive-aggressive form of revenge? With gaping jaws, they accepted the bags.
Meanwhile, at home, Kirsten’s phone and computer were blowing up with email notifications; to her absolute shock, the story had gone viral overnight! Her rant really resonated with people.
Although there were certainly some skeptics, the general reaction was supportive — people were sympathetic to Kirsten’s plight and many were sharing stories of similar birthday parties from their children’s pasts.
Everyone wanted to wish Mahlon a happy birthday, and the outpouring of love he was receiving from strangers was overwhelming. An enormous amount of positivity came his way, and that wasn’t all people were sending…
Following his mom’s blog post, endless cards and presents came flooding in from around the world. In fact, he got more gifts than a kid could ever dream of getting on their birthday and Christmas COMBINED.
When the local ladder of the Oregon Fire Department heard about Mahlon’s sad party through a local news outlet, they too wanted to do their part to make Mahlon’s birthday memorable in a more positive way.
Thus, they invited the birthday boy and his family to visit the fire station, where they were allowed to dress up in firefighter gear, explore the firehouse, and even ride atop the big red truck for the whole town to see.
Waving to the passersby like a king and receiving hundreds of cards and presents from everyone who heard his story had Mahlon beaming like never before. Surprisingly, the biggest surprise was still yet to come…
News of Mahlon’s missed birthday party had managed to reach the one person he admired most in the world, Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney! Mahlon had no idea what hit him when he picked up the phone…
Not only did Jeff FaceTime with Mahlon, he also sent him an early copy of his unreleased new book in the series! Of course, he was sworn to secrecy and instructed to keep his sneak peek at home.
As if that wasn’t enough, Mahlon and his family were invited to fly and meet Jeff. After a once-in-a-lifetime dinner with Mahlon’s personal hero, they were even given reserved front row seats at his latest book release.
Last but not least, Jeff asked Mahlon to join him on the stage and draw his own comic book character, a young boy named Jack. Who knows, maybe Mahlon will follow in Jeff’s footsteps one day!
Despite all the fanfare after Kirsten’s blog post about the failed party went viral, none of the original invitees’ parents reached out to explain their child’s absence or apologized for their lack of RSVP. Except for one…
In a moment of honesty, the mother of one of the classmates admitted she should have RSVPd, and genuinely apologized, giving Kirsten closure. In fact, Mahlon was invited over to their house for his first ever playdate!
Mahlon could not have been more grateful for the kindness of strangers in helping support him at a time when he felt so alone. After the whole ordeal, he finally found his voice, and was confident that he was worth befriending.
Actually, Mahlon was so grateful to everyone who reached out that he paid it forward. To ensure no child would face unhappy celebrations, he donated most of the toys he had received to a charity, right in time for Christmas.
Besides all the gifts and love for Mahlon, there was one thing that assured Kirsten she had done the right thing: a mom who had read her blog post relayed that she had taken her RSVP plea to heart, and committed her daughter to a classmate’s party.
The no-show party turned out to be a blessing in disguise. With Mahlon happy and inspired, Kirsten relieved and grateful, and thousands of readers dedicating themselves to future birthday parties, next year will surely be a blast!