When a Michigan mom heard her 10-year-old son say he didn't want a birthday party because he didn't have any friends to invite, her surprise solution went viral.
The mom, Jennifer, who lives near Kalamazoo, Mich., created a Facebook page for her son - "Happy Birthday Colin."
The page had a simple request: please send Colin virtual birthday wishes so that on his 11th birthday, March 9, Colin can see how much he is loved.
"I thought if I could create a page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words, that would be better than any birthday party," Jennifer, who asked that her last name not be used, wrote on February 2. "Please join me in making my very original son feel special on his day."
Jennifer, who also has a daughter, Ella, says it was actually not Colin's birthday that inspired her to turn to Facebook but the actions of fellow parents at Colin's school.
"The main thing was finding out that a lot of parents were trying to get their kids out of Colin's class and the teacher told him," Jennifer told GoodMorningAmerica.com. "His peers don't understand him but every adult who meets him loves him so I thought I would go to a place where adults and my friends are, Facebook, and have them write nice messages to Colin so I could share them on his birthday."
According to Jennifer, many of the posts on the page have come from moms who have experienced the same thing with their own children as Jennifer has with Colin, whom Jennifer describes as having a condition similar to Asperger's syndrome that causes him to struggle with facial expressions and verbal cues.
"I think that this is a big problem right now, that kids are being misunderstood and don't have friends and I think it speaks to a lot of people," Jennifer said of the response. "I think too many parents are allowing their kids to exclude others because of weirdness."
Just one week after Jennifer's post, and one month before Colin's actual birthday, the Facebook page has more than 40,000 likes and Jennifer purchased a P.O. box in response to the hundreds of people asking if they could send Colin a birthday card.
"I'm so completely overwhelmed," Jennifer said. "A woman today sent me $200 on PayPal to take him to dinner and I heard from someone with the Corvette industry who said they're going to send a car to take Colin to school the day after his birthday."
The unexpected problem Jennifer is facing now is how to keep the outpouring of love a surprise from Colin, whose last birthday party was when he was in kindergarten and only one classmate showed up.
"I've been reading and catching up with all of the posts, messages and comments on this page, all the love and support is causing me to just cry, and Colin keeps asking me, 'Are you okay mom, what's wrong?!,'" Jennifer wrote on February 4. "He doesn't know about this page yet, so I've been telling him I'm watching sad videos."
The original plan was to take Colin, a fifth-grade student who loves Nintendo 3DS, Pokemon and "Doctor Who," to a local McDonald's with WiFi and show him the messages on Jennifer's laptop.
"Now that it's gotten so big, I don't know what we're going to do," Jennifer said.
There's still time to wish Colin a happy birthday on the Facebook page here.