Jeaden Pacquette, of Prince George, B.C., has autism and struggles socially. In the past, birthdays were disappointing for him because few people attended his parties.
This year, as he approached turning 12, he told his mom he only wanted one thing for his birthday: a party with a lot of people in attendance.
So Jolene Pacquette created a Facebook page for the event, and invited everyone.
The response was incredible.
Pacquette booked the Prince George Roll-A-Dome for today, March 29, rented a popcorn machine and a helium tank, put together goodie bags — and watched as the community came together and the RSVPs rolled in.
Wal-Mart donated water and fruit juices, and local bakery Bites of Bliss provided the birthday cake. And many, many people said they'd be there.
"What started out with the hopes of 20 to 30 people attending has tuned into a party with over a 100 confirmed guests all bringing a person or two, a family ... so I'm guessing more like 200 to 300 guests," Pacquette said.
One of the nicest surprises for the Pacquette family is how hundreds of birthday cards and letters came in from all over B.C., across Canada and from around the world — some from as far away as the Czech Republic and Afghanistan.
The Kootenay Ice Major Midget Hockey Team sent a jersey, and the Toronto Facebook Team event sent some swag.
"It has been worth it. Like, there's so many wonderful people out there," Jolene Pacquette said.
As for Jeaden, he spent the last week reviewing the agenda his mom prepared so he knows exactly what will happen, and when, on his big day. And he's most looking forward to one of his favourite pastimes — a giant Nerf gun fight.
"Probably the first week he was a bit nervous. He had a few anxiety attacks," Pacqutte told CBC News this past week. "But, you know, the last four weeks, he's been counting down, and now he's pulled out his Nerf guns, and I've been picking up lots of bullets the last few days."