When Gerald Hamilton turned 9 last month, no one showed up to his long-awaited birthday party.
Before this year, the young Indiana patient had never been able to celebrate his birthday with friends because brain complications required him to undergo surgery every three years. So his mom invited 30 classmates (12 kids RSVP'd) to the March 26 party and his home was covered in superhero-themed decorations.
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Gerald's grandma, Amelia Lara, described what happened in a Facebook post that went viral.
"I'm going to vent right now," Lara wrote. "My grandson who is in second grade and has had at least 5 skull expansion surgeries, is slower then the other kids in his class. However, he is the kindest, most compassionate kid I know."
She said that at 3 p.m., Gerald made sure his goodie bags were ready for his friends, was dressed and ready. When no one showed up at 5 p.m., he still didn't want to cut the cake in case on person might show up.
Lara recounted that when Gerald's mom, Kristina Hamilton, called the parents of the 12 kids who RSVP'd, they responded with, "My child can't play with yours. He is just too different."
So Lara made it her mission to have as many cards as possible mailed to Gerald. What happened as news spread was pretty amazing.
From community members to complete strangers, people have been sending Gerald cards and gifts; the city council hosted a surprise party (his favorite K-9 dogs included!); a playdate with another boy who had similar surgeries is even in the works.
"He was really sad the day of his party, but now says he finally feels like it's his birthday because he's getting cards," Lara told Today. "I'm happy that we can show him that not everyone is bad and that there are some people out there with genuinely good hearts."
Looks like it turned out to be a really memorable birthday after all. Here's to being 9, Gerald!