A South Auckland community came together to help a young boy celebrate his birthday after no one showed up to his party.
A birthday party for most children is the most exciting day, and Rylee’s 5th birthday was meant to be no different.
Rylee’s mum Rennae Graham spared no expense for her son, saving over the last several months and staying up till midnight Friday to prepare for his party.
She booked a local hall in Manurewa, bought catering for the 60 people who said they would come, and even set up a mini-farm as entertainment for her son’s friends.
However, when the morning of the party arrived, only 12 family members showed up, including just three children Rylee could play with. Rennae and Rylee were both crushed.
“It wasn’t the fact that people didn’t show up that bothered me, but what broke me was Rylee asking me if the kids were still coming,” Rennae told the Herald.
Holding back tears and desperate to save her son’s special day, the usually very private mum took to Facebook with a plea.
“Anyone who would like to come to join in at a 5th birthday party is more than welcome! Most of our guests didn’t come and now I’m teary-eyed for our baby,” she wrote.
The response from the community was overwhelming.
Families started arriving almost immediately, all with either gifts or cards, and plenty of kids for Rylee to play with.
“It wasn’t the gifts we needed, just the people to come with their kids and spend the day with us,” Rennae said.
“One family came with six kids, it was so nice.”
They had to remove the post a short time later because of privacy issues relating to the school. But it appears people moved by her post made screenshots then shared it on other social media pages. Soon, the post went viral among the South Auckland community.
Rennae estimates more than 70 people, young and old, came out to celebrate with Rylee. She said her son was “just ecstatic”.
“There were kids of all ages there, all playing together and having a blast, he was just so happy.”
It wasn’t just Rylee who got to have the best day ever, however.
“Since we had the mobile animal truck, many families approached me and thanked me, saying how hard it is these days to be able to afford to take your kids out for a fun day.
“To see other kids also smile and have the best day, it was just so cool.”
The impromptu guests even rolled up their sleeves and stayed to help clean up the hall.
Facebook community groups were flooded with positive messages after the party with people reaching out to wish Rylee happy birthday and expressing their love for their supportive community.
“Wishing Rylee a very happy birthday, looks like everyone had a fabulous time! Such an amazing, caring community!” one attendee wrote.
Another said: “What a great time! His mum was so sweet & grateful! So glad we were able to celebrate with Rylee & family. Awesome turn out for this lil fella.”
Rennae didn’t get many people’s names who came out to celebrate with her son and wanted to thank everyone involved.
“We just want to say thank you for making his day amazing and helping us get rid of all that food.”
• For more stories and advice about raising kids, check out the Herald’s parenting podcast, One Day You’ll Thank Me