A mother of a six-year-old boy was devastated when not a single guest showed up at his birthday party. But the sad turnout wound up being a beautiful and charitable opportunity.
The boy's mother—TikToker @dawners86—posted a video at a public park where the celebration was to take place. But out of 22 invited guests, everyone was a no-show.
The clip showed the empty playground with a table with unused paper plates and cups, party favors, and an unopened box with a birthday cake.
"I know it's a pandemic but, it is a park...and we have reopened in my province," read the text scrawled across the clip.
heart broken. #heartbroken #sosad #hurt #wow #lonely #poorguy #sadboy #birthday #happybirthday #omg #cry
Dawners said in a voiceover:
"So we're sitting at the park for JJ's birthday party, we got everything ready, his party started half an hour ago."
"He had literally zero people show up for his birthday. My poor little man."
The caption over the clip read:
"Sorry the video is shaky...I am so upset for this poor guy. He deserves better. He's amazing."
The clip—which racked up more than two million views and 330K likes in just one day, according to Indy 100.—elicited sympathy and much support from fellow TikTokers.
People felt horrible for JJ and commiserated by sharing their own similar stories.
After reading the compassionate comments and support for JJ's birthday, Dawners posted a follow-up video expressing gratitude.
#stitch with @dawners86 im shaking, im sorry. thank you so much. #blessed #family #thankyou #birthday #happybirthday #wow #showedup #loveyou
In another video, Dawners admitted to making up phone calls so JJ wouldn't expect anything was afoul.
"I didn't want JJ knowing anything was up so I made a whole bunch of phone calls," she said.
Dawners called up family and the parents of children she used to look after and asked them at the last minute:
"Can you get to the park real quick?"
Two families eventually showed up, and one of the mothers even brought a homemade present for the birthday boy.
Although there were "no school friends," Dawners was happy "the back-up showed up. They understood the assignment."
Reply to @racheljean21 @twisted.tinkerbell he had 6 friends roll up #replytocomments #backup #thankyou #birthday #answer #special
And when a sympathetic commenter wanting to give JJ presents asked what he was "into," Dawners graciously declined and said no presents were necessary.
"Instead, he has asked very politely if you guys would send any extra gifts to the children's hospital closest to you," she said.
"He has toys. He just wanted to spend some time with his friends."
Reply to @hales1320 #blessed #birthday #replytocomments #helpothers #childrenshospital #donate
In response to a question one user asked about the things JJ was interested in so that any donations would be the kinds of things he might give, Dawners listed, How to Train your Dragon, dinosaurs, puzzles, books, and coloring supplies.
"That would be a perfect donation for a children's hospital near you."
Later, Dawners said JJ went live and thanked everyone for the donations sent to hospitals.
JJ's benevolence has inspired various acts of philanthropy.
JJ's friends may not have been at the park that day, but many of his "new friends" online were celebrating with him by spreading acts of kindness in his name.
Happy birthday, JJ. Hearing about your big heart is a gift for all of us.