A high school football team from Idaho surprised a young boy who has autism at his birthday party when many of his friends did not RSVP.
With his ninth birthday approaching, Christian Larsen was filled with excitement, and sent out invitations to all of his friends to attend his party. But Christian’s mother, Lindsay Larsen, grew worried when only one of his friends responded to the invitations, she told CNN.
She began to lose hope that responses would come in when she saw classmates ignore or outright decline Christian’s invitation to his party at one of the end-of-the-year events at their elementary school, she recalled.
“He has worked so hard to learn names this year, and I could tell he was proud as he talked to them,” Lindsay wrote on Facebook on May 31. “He asked a couple for high fives. One girl responded to him and said ok, and smiled. The rest were boys. Three didn’t respond to him at all. One just said, ‘No.’ “
“At first I was just hoping that with the end of the year chaos, that the invitations were overlooked,” she continued. “But, after seeing the personal interactions, I’m thinking maybe there is more. The hardest thing, is I do understand. It can be uncomfortable to try to be a friend with someone who has had outbursts and cried in class.”
After reading the post, Lindsay’s friend, Blythe Ben-David, felt compelled to make Christian’s party a true celebration.
Ben-David reached out to family friend Dan Holtry, the football coach at Nampa High School, and asked if he could help.
“The players jumped at the opportunity,” Holtry told CNN. “They were ready and willing to celebrate with Christian. Within seconds of a sent text they were 100 percent in. No hesitation whatsoever.”
On June 4, the eight of the players showed up to Christian’s party in their jerseys and chanted his name — completely surprising him on his big day.
“The energy became electric and it was amazing to see how they all came together,” Lindsay told CNN. “Christian often plays alone, or wanders off, but with the players there helping organize games, he became part of the action. He was playing alongside his peers, as well as the football players. I think it helped the other young children interact with Christian too.”
A video of the surprise moment shows Christian drop to the floor in shock when the players arrived. He then gives high fives to all the players, who even stayed to party with their new friend.
“We want to get him out here for a few games, get him out on the field pregame, just have fun with him,” football player Donovan Estrada told KTVB.
“I know that Christian felt amazed and blessed by the turnout,” Lindsay told CNN. “He talked about it for days. One of the best things about his personality, is that he is always looking for the positive. He didn’t question why the players were there, he just loved it. He has said multiple times that it was the best birthday ever!”
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