SALMON ARM (NEWS 1130) — It was a very happy birthday for a nine-year-old in the Shuswap, who celebrated with the help of hundreds of people around the world, including notable celebrity Ryan Reynolds.
Last month, Damien Smith and his parents moved from the Lower Mainland to Salmon Arm but the move was challenging. Damien struggled to adjust, saying he was worried he would have no friends and remarked he wasn’t even excited to celebrate his birthday.
That prompted his parents to put out a call for birthday cards. According to his mom, Tiffany Smith, they were not disappointed.
“We stopped counting at like 1,200 and we’ve gotten over like 100 packages of presents for him. They came from everywhere from Australia, all over America and Canada,” she tells NEWS 1130.
She says in addition to the global response, cards and gifts came from people in different stages of life. One, however, stood out.
“There was one gentleman who reached out to us. He asked us for our address so that his grandfather, who had just passed away … before he passed away he had said he wanted to send Damien a card. That’s pretty special that it’s reached so many people.”
And to top it all off — Damien got a message from Reynolds, the star of the little boy’s favourite movie, Deadpool.
“I relate to your story a lot because I also went to new school when I was a kid, a couple of them actually. And I remember how alienating that felt, and I remember how alone I felt and unseen I felt,” the Vancouver actor said in the video to Damien.
“As I become a borderline grown up, I would say that one of the things I’ve come to realize is that when you feel your suffering and when you feel bad about something, usually it’s because you feel like you’re the only one usually it’s because you feel like you’re totally alone.”
Reynolds added, he believed people around the world have gravitated to Damien’s story because people relate to his story.
“I guess the point is that you’re not alone.”
"I was in complete shock. It was really awesome." 9-yo Damien Smith is celebrating his bday today with +1200 cards from around the world & a message from @VancityReynolds. Damien recently moved to the Shuswap, & struggled to adjust, prompting his dad to ask for help. @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/diQFTidcDz
— Tarnjit Parmar (@Tarnjitkparmar) November 25, 2020
Damien says he was “completely in shock” to see the message and support from around the world, adding he hopes to meet the actor soon.
“He’s so much happier and so much more confident and he’s got a bunch of little friends that run around with him right now that are all in his bubbles so it’s kind of nice,” Damien’s mom says.
Last month, Reynolds reached out to CityNews after seeing the family’s story.
Related video: B.C. boy gets birthday cards from around the world
OMG! Something good it coming. This is AMAZING. 8-year-old Damien is going to be thrilled! Thanks, yet again, to our Vancouver hero @VancityReynolds @CityNewsVAN @NEWS1130 @BT_Vancouver https://t.co/ETXfK6LJPE pic.twitter.com/z6536JKTpv
— Isabelle Raghem (@IsabelleRaghem) October 22, 2020
Tiffany adds, she’s incredibly thankful for all the love and support pouring in.
“Every time we read a new card, it’s like yourself starting all over again for us. We are so shocked that it just happened so quickly and in such magnitude. It’s such a beautiful thing to happen, especially in a time right now where everybody came together,” she says.