It's one of any party host's worst nightmares: You send out the RSVPs, plan games, spend money on food, drink, and decorations, and not one person shows up. A little boy in Woodlands, California faced that heartbreaking moment when none of his friends came out to celebrate his seventh birthday. Luckily, well-meaning strangers jumped in to save the day and turned what could have been a childhood tragedy into a beautiful example of community.
Adonai Gutierrez was ready to celebrate his birthday at a local park with family and friends. The invitations were sent out in plenty of time and, on April 22, his parents and grandmother thought everything was set for him to have a memorable birthday. The family waited from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m., but not one of the other invited guests showed up. Adonai's birthday cake was left uneaten, his piñata remained untouched.
The little boy was devastated. “I was like, why did I even have a birthday if nobody came?" he told local news. Heartbroken for him, his aunt took to Facebook to share the story and friends helped spread the word across social media. In fact, Adonai's story became such a hot topic that it was mentioned on Sacramento TV channels and caught the hearts of hundreds of strangers.
“The next morning I woke up to my phone with a whole bunch of notifications and I was like, 'What’s going on?'" Maria Lopez, Adonai's mother, remembered.
Working together, people in Woodlands and nearby areas pooled money, time, and resources to organize a party for Adonai that would blow the bad memory of the other out of the water. The city pitched in as well, waving the $20 hourly fee for use of the park. The community pulled together a bouncy house, three birthday cakes, dozens of cupcakes, games, and stacks of pizza, Adonai's favorite food. When Adonai's family took him to the park Sunday, over 200 people were there to wish him a happy birthday and party.
"Nana, when I got out of the car, I had to hold on to you because it felt like I was going to fall over," Adonai said to his grandmother, Ofelia Mercado.
Naturally, Adonai was reportedly a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and stunned by how many unfamiliar faces would come out to celebrate him. He shook it off though, going out to play with the other children and truly enjoy turning seven. According to him, it was his favorite birthday yet.
"I think this is great,” gushed Lopez. “There’s a lot of love here. And I’m super grateful.”