When Robyn Foller asked her son what he wanted to do for his 13th birthday, his response broke her heart.
“Why? Nobody comes to my party anyway,” she remembers him saying. “Nobody likes me because of my disabilities.”
Zach Foller, a sixth grader at Dover Elementary School, was diagnosed with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder in August.
Since he was 6, his birthday parties consisted of family and a few close friends, his mom said. Two years ago, he waited two hours for his classmates to come to his bowling party. But no one did, and he’s starting to think of his birthday as another day no one wants to celebrate with him.
“It hurts to see my son cry like that,” Robyn said. “I got sad for him because he doesn’t know why people are the way they are. I don’t know what to tell him. I can only invite. I can’t make them come.”
But this year, she’s determined to make his 13th birthday different.
Earlier this month, she posted a photo of Zach with his therapy dog, Bullet, on Facebook and asked friends to send him cards for his birthday, which is on Jan. 28.
She said she wanted him to know that there are good people out there who care about him.
But she never expected such a large response.
As of Thursday, her post had been shared more than 420 times, and she’s received at least 30 cards from all over the country – most from people she doesn’t know.
The cards have come from New Jersey, Arizona and New Mexico and some have included gift cards for Zach.
“I just started crying,” Robyn said of the moment she saw the cards start filling up her mailbox. “I just want him to know that there’s good people out there that don’t care about somebody’s disability. They care about the inside. They care about the person’s soul – not how he acts or carries on or what he looks like.”
She plans to surprise him with the cards during a birthday trip to the movies to see “Monster Trucks.”
“He’s going to be so surprised,” she said. “I can’t wait for the day.”
To help make Zach’s 13th birthday special, send cards to:
Zachary Thomas Foller, 4550 Bull Road, Lot 21, Dover, PA 17315