Lifestyle & Human Interest

Football Team Surprises Boy with Autism on Birthday After Crushed Mom Shares Story Online


As Christian Larsen was coming up on his 9th birthday, he was getting excited to plan a party to celebrate with all of his friends.

In a Facebook post, Christian’s mom, Lindsay Barrus Larsen, shared that their family had never had party with classmates for her son before. But this year, she decided to let her son have what he wanted. She made invitations for his 25 classmates and gave him instructions to pass them out at his Idaho school.

Then, she waited.

But after days passed, and not a single RSVP drifted back, Larsen began to worry.

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Knowing that her son’s autism sometimes made classmates uncomfortable, the protective mom started to wonder if it was the reason for the lack of responses to the party.

“I know a lot of people just don’t [RSVP], so I was hoping that’s all that was going on,” she wrote.

But sadly, she soon realized her worst fears were right.

“At the end of the school year picnic Christian was saying goodbye to his “friends” and asked them to RSVP,” she wrote. “I watched as he talked to 6 kids from his class. He addressed them by name, paused, then talked. He has worked so hard to learn names this year, and I could tell he was proud as he talked to them.”

Christian’s mom watched as her son talked to his classmates and asked them to come to his birthday party one by one.

“He asked a couple for high fives. One girl responded to him and said ok, and smiled.” But, she wrote, “Three didn’t respond to him at all.”

“The parents didn’t acknowledge Christian either,” Larsen added.

Upset, the 9-year-old’s mother decided to speak out. In her post responding to the situation, she urged parents to model better behavior for their children to help their kids break down the barriers built up by differences.

“Find time,” she wrote. “Make time for compassion.”

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Determined that Christian would still have a good birthday party with their family and the one little girl who had accepted his invitation, Larsen began planning again.

That’s when a friend of Larsen’s in Texas reached out with an idea. The friend’s husband had played football in college with a man named Dan who became a football coach in Larsen’s area.

Soon, Coach Dan reached out to Larsen “asking if he could come to the party with some of his best players.”

At first, she was hesitant. Nervous even. Being a mom to a son with autism meant dealing with the challenges and rejections right alongside him. Feeling protective, and wanting to make sure her little boy had the support he needed on his birthday, Larsen wasn’t sure she was willing to take the risk.

“But, then I got over myself, and happily accepted,” she wrote. “Because if community wants to come together, and celebrate Christian, why should I stop that. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of.”

On the day of the party, family and friends from school and his neighborhood celebrated Christian’s big day with him. And in the middle of the party, Coach Dan and his players showed up to do the same.

Larsen shared the touching moment the team arrived to surprise her son, chanting his name as they walked into the backyard.

“It was truly amazing to watch them,” Larsen wrote. “They played games and got down on the level of the little kids and got them all involved.”

“Even my not naturally athletically inclined Christian, was running ‘touch downs!’”

“Kids asked for their autographs. The players watched as gifts were opened and were excited about it. They all sang to him and watched him blow out his candles.”

Christian and his family were blessed that day by the reminder that there are still people willing to go above and beyond to show kindness and love.

“There is so much good in this world,” Larsen said. “And when things are hard, the good shines even brighter.”

The Western Journal reached out to Lindsay Barrus Larsen for comment but has not received a response. We will update this story if and when we do.

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Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Phoenix, AZ