Rhys Williams has lived a hard 13 years, and he’s been feeling pretty low heading into his 14th birthday.
“I’ve had enough of life,” the boy told his mom, Tanya, at their home in Bolton, U.K., this summer.
Rhys was born with a rare and painful skin condition known as epidermolysis bullosa, which causes his skin to blister and his fingers to fuse together. Parts of his body remain wrapped in bandages to protect him from harm, but he’s still in pain every day. He can’t play sports, go out in public on his own or even accept a hug from his mom.
Children with the condition rarely reach adulthood and are often known as “butterfly” boys or girls.
Tanya Williams says Rhys was feeling particularly depressed about his condition recently when he said he wished a butterfly would “come and take him away,” she told the South West News Service.
“He just wants to give up, he doesn’t want to fight anymore. What do you do as a mum?” Tanya Williams told the U.K.’s Daily Record in early September.
Mom desperately wanted to give her boy a happy 14th birthday, so she put out a call for birthday cards to mark his big day on Sept. 21.
The response was overwhelming. Tanya Williams says Rhys has been flooded with cards — more than 10,000 of them — over the last month. They’ve been coming in by the box and by the bag. The post office even sent a dedicated van full of letters one day, according to updates posted on Tanya’s Facebook page.
Rhys’ home is now filled with piles of letters from strangers, while his mother’s Facebook account has been flooded with more positive messages.
“All the cards are just as nice and kind as the next,” Tanya Williams said. “His favourite present so far has got to be his gaming headphones and Xbox game from someone in L.A.”
She says the boy has received cards from sports teams, people in the movie industry and well-wishers from all parts of the globe.
“Rhys has not been able to wipe the smile off his face. He’s been so happy,” she said. “It restores your faith in humanity.”
For those interested, cards can be sent to 40 Whalley Ave., Bolton, BL1 5UD in the United Kingdom.