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Football team surprises boy with autism after classmates decline his birthday party

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Football team surprises boy with autism after classmates decline his birthday party
Christian Larsen wanted to have a big birthday party with all of his classmates. After only one girl from his school RSVP'd, an Idaho high school football team decided to take matters into their own hands and make a birthday miracle happen – Jul 25, 2019

Christian Larsen considers everyone his friend, so when it came to his ninth birthday party, he wrote invitations for his entire class.

But he and his mom, Lindsay, waited and waited for RSVPs that never came. They only heard back from one girl.

Christian, who has autism, is a student at Hillsdale Elementary in Idaho. Thinking that perhaps his peers just forgot, he approached some of them at an end-of-year picnic at his school.

“I wondered if he’d remembered to give the invitations out,” Lindsay told Global News on Thursday. “We had a last day of school picnic, and it was there that I saw Christian trying to talk to his peers. Most of them ignored him… That was hard to see, but I also understood why the kids could be uncomfortable.”

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Larsen took to Facebook to share her thoughts about the way her son’s peers treated him. She also wanted to explain the importance of teaching children to be compassionate.

“It is normal to be uncomfortable with difference or something that is unfamiliar,” she wrote in the post. “But the best way to get rid of that uncomfortable feeling is to make it not be so different anymore.”

Larsen’s friend, Blythe Ben-David, felt moved by the post, so she stepped in to make something special happen. She called up local football coach Dan Holtry and asked if his Nampa High School football team would make an appearance on Christian’s big day.

An Idaho high school football team surprised Christian Larsen at his birthday party. Facebook

And on June 4, there they all were — decked out in their red-and-white sports uniforms and bearing gifts for the young boy.

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“When the team came in chanting Christian’s name, he at first just looked at them,” Larsen said. “I was thrilled to see that Christian was excited with the players being there and wanting to interact. He loved that they were there and never stopped to ask why.”

With footballs and team gear to gift to the birthday boy, the players were quick to organize games with him. They sang Christian “Happy Birthday” and ate cake with him.

“He had a great day,” Larsen said. “He said that he hopes it helps people understand autistic kids more, and that people can be better friends… It has helped him see how small acts of kindness can become big things.”

“It shows that the world needs more happy endings,” she said.

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meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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