An 18-year old girl with a rare genetic disorder hosted celebrated her birthday on Sunday. She was overjoyed when hundreds showed up, and hundreds more reached out to send their best wishes.
Arkells and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were among those wishing her happy birthday.
Kaitlin Coghlin, the Brantford teenager with Williams syndrome, came crying to her mother six months ago because she had no friends.
Her mom, Nicole Callander, posted on social media asking people to send birthday cards and well wishes so that her daughter could feel special. Hundreds of people from around the world sent in hand-made drawings and notes. Callander also received a huge amount of other parents sympathizing because their children had no friends and were never invited to birthday parties either. This was where she got the idea to get kids with special needs all together to celebrate, in one big “unbirthday” party.
On Sunday, July 8, Mohawk Park Pavilion was filled with jugglers, face painters, princesses, super-heros, firefighters, clowns, and more all showed up.
Mayor Chris Friel described the party as “Brantford at its best.” He also presented Coghlin with a special birthday card that had been signed by all staff at City Hall. He also said to CBC that he hopes this event will inspire others towards inclusion for kids with disabilities.
Coghlin’s condition is a rare disorder that effects brain development and can impact phycial abilities like lack of coordination, muscle weakness, and possible heart weakness.
“At the end of the day, nobody should be excluded because of a disability. In fact, my goal is to make sure that for everybody with a disability, everyone can see that they have amazing abilities instead,” said Callandar that day to CBC. “The theme is birthday, but at the end of the day, it’s just that we want kids to have friends. We want them to belong and we want to build up their self-worth, and this was the perfect avenue to do it.”
Image courtesy Dave Carrol via Instagram