Daniel Nicastro's last two birthday parties had left him in tears.
The youngster — who has autism — sent out a bunch of invitations each time to other kids in his home town of North Port, Florida. But no one ever showed up.
His mother, Carolyn Nicastro, believes other children find his autism "off-putting." "They don't know what to make of it," she told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune earlier. "They back away, and he ends up being by himself."
The boy's mom and his father, also called Daniel, were determined their son wouldn't be left alone for a third year in a row. So when they didn't receive RSVPs for this year's bash, they invited the North Port Police Department, who Daniel had often described as "superheroes."
The family was stunned when a group of officers showed up to the party at McKibben Park on Sunday to help celebrate their young son turning 8. The cops even brought gifts.
"I was actually like, 'Oh my God, what's going on?'" the boy's father told News Channel 8.
The department posted a picture of seven of its officers enjoying the party to Facebook on Monday. It included the text of Carolyn Nicastro's thank-you note to cops, which in part read, "His favorite friends came to his party."
"He is still talking about it being the best birthday ever! Thank you North Port Police Department," she added. "You made my son's birthday extra special with his favorite super heroes!"
The post has since gone viral, and sparked an enormous outpouring of thanks toward the department -- which has received dozens of telephone calls, praising its work, from around the world.
Daniel's party has also prompted the police to hold a community birthday event for other children in the area who feel left out.
"The reaction from here at home and across the world to Daniel's birthday party and our small gesture of showing up when others didn't has been AMAZING!" the department posted to Facebook on Tuesday.
"We want all our kids to know how special they are and see how much our community cares for them," it added.