High school football players in Idaho surprised a 9-year-old boy with autism by coming to his birthday party after only one classmate accepted his invitation.
Video taken by Lindsay Barrus Larsen at last month’s party showed the Nampa High School players giving her son Christian a football as a gift and playing with him.
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Lindsay Larsen explained on Facebook in May that she passed out invitations to Christian’s class of 25 students, but only one girl responded that she would come.
“The hardest thing, is I do understand. It can be uncomfortable to try to be a friend with someone who has had outbursts and cried in class,” she wrote in the post, adding that she was “grateful” for the one girl who said she was going to attend.
In another Facebook post days later, Lindsay said that her friend reached out to Nampa High School Football Coach Dan Holtry after reading the first post about Christian’s birthday party. Nampa is located about 20 miles from Boise.
“Before I knew it, Coach Dan was reaching out to me, asking if he could come to the party with some of his best players,” Lindsay wrote, adding that she “happily accepted” the coach’s offer.
Coach Holtry told KTVB-TV he texted his team to tell them about the birthday party.
“The kids, before I could finish the text, it feels like they were like, ‘We’re in … Coach, we are in!’ They were like, ‘When do we do it? Let’s go!'” Holtry told the station. “I was amazed how much they wanted to participate in this and take care of Christian.”
Donovan Estrada, a Nampa High School football player, said he “instantly” wanted to attend, adding that he knew his teammates did too.
“Right away we texted back, ‘Yeah, let’s do it! We’re in!'” Estrada told the station.
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On the day of Christian’s party, the team showed up in their jerseys and chanted his name.
“I literally pretended to pass out when I saw them, it was really cool,” Christian told the television station. “I was wowed! I can’t explain it! Wowed!”
“He just looked so happy to see us,” Estrada said. “We were all so excited to be there and all.”
He added, “He just wanted to play football with us, showing the presents that he got, he wanted us to stay for cake and stuff like that.”
Christian told KTVB, “This is probably the best birthday ever, I have lots of best days in my life, and this might be one of them.”
“It was truly amazing to watch them,” his mother wrote on Facebook. “Those High School seniors stayed until the end of the party.”
She said the team played games and sang “Happy Birthday” to him.
“Even my not naturally athletically inclined Christian, was running “touch downs!” Lindsay wrote.
Holtry told KTVB it was an honor for the team to be a part of Christian’s birthday party.
“It was just an opportunity to take care of a guy that was going through adversity,” Holtry said. “We’re blessed here at Nampa High School. We have a lot of great kids. We know about adversity and we have our fair share, and we know how to fight through it.”
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“There is so much good in this world,” Christian’s mom wrote on Facebook. “And when things are hard, the good shines even brighter.”