A month after his parents began collecting them in secret, nine-year-old Damien Smith was finally able to see all the birthday cards and gifts sent to him from around the world — including a video greeting from none other than Vancouver-born movie star Ryan Reynolds.
Moving to the Shuswap from Coquitlam, B.C., in early October, Damien had difficulty making friends in his new town of Salmon Arm, B.C., and feared he would have a lonely birthday.
His parents, Tiffanie Trudell and Thomas Smith, came up with a solution — they shared their son’s predicament on Facebook and asked anyone and everyone to send him birthday cards.
The couple received more than 1,200 birthday wishes and gifts from as far away as India, New Zealand and Norway, but hid them all until they surprised Damien on Saturday.
That’s when Smith took his blindfolded son to the living room filled with birthday treasure and his friends singing Happy Birthday.
“Here [are] cards all the way around the world telling you how important you are,” Trudell said when the boy opened his eyes.
Damien and his father then watched a video greeting sent by Reynolds, who plays the superhero Deadpool in Marvel’s Deadpool movies.
WATCH | Ryan Reynolds tell Damien Smith what they have in common:
“I relate to your story a lot because I also went to a new school,” Reynolds says in the video. “I remember how alone I felt and unseen I felt.”
“When you feel suffering and when you feel bad about something, you say it’s because you feel like you’re the only one. You’re not alone,” the actor says before wishing the boy a Happy Birthday.
WATCH | Damien Smith’s jaw drops as he listens to Ryan Reynolds’ greeting:
Seemingly astounded by the superstar’s wishes, Damien hugged his mother, who teared up with joy.
The lucky birthday boy also received a free Deadpool themed birthday cake from a Salmon Arm bakery.
“It’s so amazing, I was so shocked,” said Trudell.
In his Facebook post, Smith wrote that his son has self-confidence issues and doesn’t always feel accepted.
Trudell said Reynolds’ video and the other birthday wishes he received have given Damien a “newfound confidence.”
“The world right now is going through something crazy,” she said. “And it’s nice that my son gets to see a bright light and shares it with everybody around the world.”