While it is common for videos, images or articles to go viral, it is not often that people hear about a birthday going viral. The Happy Birthday Colin Facebook Page helped a Michigan boy’s birthday do just that, however. His mom created the page to help him get encouragement, but she had no idea the kind of attention it would draw. This morning Colin and his family appeared on Good Morning America (GMA) to celebrate his 11 birthday and reveal the Facebook page, which he was completely in the dark about.
It all started about a month ago when Colin’s mom, Jennifer Cunningham, brought up the idea of a birthday party. His response was saddening, stating that he had no friends, so there was no point in having a party. Cunningham describes her son as having a sensory disorder that is similar to Asperger syndrome (part of the autism spectrum.) He has trouble difficulty with social interactions. He also reports having no friends at school and having to eat lunch alone in the office.
Cunningham reached out for support, in hopes of getting a few replies to let Colin know he was loved and had friends. On Feb. 2 she set up the Facebook Page, Happy Birthday Colin. At that point she had no idea how the story would explode and go viral. People were commenting and sharing the Facebook page like rapid-fire. The Richmond, MI boy started getting letters and packages from around the world. Each day she was overwhelmed by the outpour of love and support for her son.
As of today, the Facebook page has over 2.1 million likes and hundreds of thousands of comments. People from all walks of life have sent messages, cards, presents and videos, including some comedians, police, firefighters, soldiers and students. Trips to the post office left Cunningham in awe. They loaded the van full of cards and gifts for Colin, with as many as 10,000 cards coming in each day.
His mom managed to keep all of this a big secret from the firth grader, wanting it to be a birthday surprise. Until today, that is. Even this morning, as they were on the set of GMA, live on TV, he believed he was there to test a video game and was happy to do so. He had no clue what was about to unfold.
Then Robin Roberts brought the family out, introduced them and revealed the big secret that his mom has been keeping from him for the last month. They showed a picture of his Facebook page and pointed out that he went viral on his birthday. They gave him a t-shirt that read, “I went viral on my birthday.” Then a marching band came out, they rolled out a big birthday cake and balloons. Lastly, GMA announced that they were giving the family a trip to Disney World.
Colin was surprised by the big secret and was excited that he went viral on his birthday, thanks to GMA and the Facebook page his mom created. Cunningham never expected this type of reaction when she created the page in an effort to prove that her son does have friends and people do care about him. Colin’s official birthday is Mar. 9.
Editorial by Tracy Rose