Maple Leafs wish young fan a happy birthday after no one shows up to his party
Team responds to parent's social media plea after disappointing birthday party
Some high-profile athletes are rallying around a young Toronto Maple Leafs fan after the boy's dad tweeted that the 11-year-old had a disappointing birthday.
Leafs forwards Mitch Marner and John Tavares are among those sending birthday wishes to Kade Foster in response to a viral tweet from his father, Jason Foster of Corner Brook, N.L.
Foster wrote that none of Kade's friends showed up to the Saturday night party.
"That hurt. I'm asking my Twitter friends to show him some love today. If you have a minute, please send him a birthday wish," he wrote, tagging Marner and Tavares.
A photo linked to the tweet shows Kade in a Maple Leafs T-shirt, a Leafs birthday cake in front of him.
"Wanted to wish my friend Kade a Happy 11th Birthday! Your friends from the Maple Leafs have a surprise gift coming your way!" Marner tweeted in response.
Wanted to wish my friend Kade a Happy 11th Birthday! Your friends from the Maple Leafs have a surprise gift coming your way! <a href="https://twitter.com/91Tavares?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@91Tavares</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MapleLeafs</a> <a href="https://t.co/tmM8rBx1aY">https://t.co/tmM8rBx1aY</a>—@Marner93
Tavares added that he was "looking forward to celebrating" with Kade.
Happy 11th Birthday Kade! All your friends on the team look forward to celebrating with you. I’m hearing it’s going to be quite the surprise. <a href="https://twitter.com/Marner93?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Marner93</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MapleLeafs</a> <a href="https://t.co/knidhCar7G">https://t.co/knidhCar7G</a>—@91Tavares
"I couldn't imagine being in his shoes," Tavares said at Toronto's skate Monday. "Being a kid, there's nothing like your birthday and to celebrate with your friends and have a party and a day that's about you.
"No one shows up and you don't get to do that, I couldn't imagine what an impact that would make on an 11-year-old kid. Him being a big Maple Leafs fan and especially seeing him with the shirt on and me and Mitchy on his cake, I think we wanted to reach out and make him feel like he's got a whole room of friends here that want to make him feel special on his big day."
By Sunday evening, Foster's post had been shared more than 10,000 times and garnered at least 25,000 responses, including messages from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and actor Ben Stiller — who specified that he doesn't play hockey.
Lance McCullers Jr., a pitcher for the Houston Astros, also sent birthday wishes to Kade and offered to meet up with him in Toronto after the team plays there in May — but only if Kade wants.
Foster tweeted his thanks several hours after his initial message went out.
"We can't comprehend what has happened today. Kade and the rest of us are just amazed," he wrote. "To everyone who sent Kade a message — thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said NHL stars should give back to supporters when given the chance.
"Well, why wouldn't they? Part of your job with the notoriety you're given, the opportunity you're given, is to be a good person," Babcock said Monday. "And not just when cameras are watching, but be a good person all the time.
"When you have a chance to make someone's life better, you should. I don't know what we're doing for him here, but I imagine it'll be fun. When you reach out and you help anybody, it's just not just good for them. It's good for your soul, too. Makes you feel good about yourself. I think it's important our guys do that."
Wishing Kade the happiest of birthdays!<br>Your pal, Mar🐫 <a href="https://t.co/86tZwfP0qB">pic.twitter.com/86tZwfP0qB</a>—@HamillHimself
Happy 11th birthday, Kade! 🎈—@JustinTrudeau
Kade I don’t play hockey at all but Happy Birthday man!—@RedHourBen
Happy birthday Kade! It’s okay that I’m not on your cake, those two guys are pretty good too. Hope you have a good day buddy—@johnscott_32
Happy Birthday Kade! I don’t know anything about sports. Why are those ice dancers on your cake using canes? Love ZB—@zachbraff
We can’t comprehend what has happened today. Kade and the rest of us are just amazed. To EVERYONE who sent Kade a message - thank you from the bottom of our hearts. He is an amazing son and he will never forget this day. <a href="https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MapleLeafs</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Marner93?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Marner93</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/91Tavares?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@91Tavares</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/NLGrowlers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NLGrowlers</a>—@NLWildlife