As a kid, your birthday is the best day of the year. For Braden Garnett, a 5th grader from Pekin, Illinois, however, it was just another day of loneliness.
Braden was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia, and a condition that causes the misalignment of his eyes. As a result, he was often bullied in school.
“I struggle with people calling me names. I’m bullied constantly,” he told CNN.
“Telling me I’m a cross-eyed freak, and I’m not good at kickball.”
For Braden, regular school days were rough— but when his birthday rolled around, it got much, much worse. “There have been many parties when only two kids showed up,” Braden’s mother, Carrie Garnett, revealed. “Other years, no one.”
Carrie knew the failed parties were devastating to her son— and sadly, it looked like this year would be the same.
Out of the 36 birthday invitations Braden had sent out, only 2 people had RSVP’d as attending. That’s when Carrie decided to step in.
Fearing seeing her son heartbroken again, Carrie put in a little request to her local police department.
Carrie contacted the Pekin Police Department, asking if an office would be willing to surprise Braden at his paintball party.
“I want him to have what all the other kids had. I want him to have all the good friendships and to not struggle,” she said.
Detective Mike Eeten was the person who received Carrie’s e-mail. When he heard about Braden’s situation, he knew he had to help. “That’s a difficult thing to have to say to your child, why nobody showed up to their birthday party,” Eeten told CNN.
“I thought we can do this. We can help this child have a birthday party he’ll never forget.”
Eeten spread the word about Braden’s birthday to the rest of the department.
When the day of the party finally came, Braden was overjoyed to be greeted by dozens of officers, firefighters, and even the mayor— all there to help celebrate his special day.
“A lot of times we’re involved with seeing people at their worst. Or on their hardest days,” said Patrol Officer James Guerra.
“To be a part of somebody’s day, that was a pretty special thing.”
The officers came loaded with gifts for the birthday boy, and one K9 officer even brought his dog to play with the kids.
Some of the officers had brought their children along, and together, everyone enjoyed a lively afternoon of paintball and presents.
“Pekin has the most amazing police and fire to do this for my little guy,” Carrie told People.
The Pekins Police uploaded a video of the party to Facebook, where it ultimately went viral. Carrie said, “Now that all the kids and staff at the school have seen the videos of it, they are giving him some positive attention that he is handling wonderfully.”
“He is absolutely glowing from it all.”
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Source: Time Inc. People via Tout