It’s a birthday that will never be forgotten for a Shuswap boy, who turned nine years old on Tuesday.
“No, I wasn’t expecting that. Every time I (thought) about my birthday, (I thought) it was going to be bad and then it turned out to be shocking,” said Damien Smith, the birthday boy.
Damien Smith and his family just recently moved to Canoe, a community of 1,000 residents near Salmon Arm, B.C.
When Damien was asked if he was excited for his birthday a few weeks ago, he said he was the complete opposite.
Damien was expecting to be lonely in the lakeside village as the province issued orders against household visits, including birthday parties.
Tiffany Trudell and Thomas Smith, Damien’s parents, were heartbroken for their son so they reached out for help.
“It all started with one post on Facebook and it blew up,” said Thomas Smith. “It went viral and Damien got cards from everywhere around the world, thousands of cards.”
Originally, Damien’s parents asked for people to write Damien birthday cards to help motivate the Grade 4 student with his reading — something his mother said he struggles with.
“He has trouble reading. He has trouble with diagnosing what he’s reading, what he’s looking at,” said Tiffany. “The cards have helped a lot. He is trying really hard to read them with us.”
Damien’s birthday story touched thousands of people across the world as the family received letters from Norway, India and New Zealand.
One B.C. celebrity caught wind of Damien’s story and took it upon himself to give personal birthday wishes.
“Damien, it’s Ryan. I heard your story, I heard about it, I read about it, I heard you’re a big fan of Deadpool,” said Ryan Reynolds, the iconic Deadpool character’s actor.
Reynolds sent a very special video message wishing Damien a happy birthday, telling Damien he relates to him as he had to switch schools while he was a kid as well.
“The point is… is that you’re not alone,” said Reynolds.
“And the other point which is even more important is Happy Birthday — I hope we get to meet one day.”
It’s now safe to say Reynolds and the thousands who reached out to the B.C. boy made his birthday one that was truly memorable.