A French man with Down syndrome has received more than 40,000 birthday cards from strangers all over the globe after his dad posted a simple message on Facebook asking if anyone might be willing to make his son’s special day a little bit brighter.
Last month, Lucien Parisseaux sent his 25 Facebook friends a plea. His son Manuel, who has Down syndrome, was going to celebrate his 30th birthday at the end of November, he wrote. He asked if they would consider sending him a birthday card.
Manuel “loves getting cards,” the doting dad wrote, according to a Huffington Post translation. “I’m contacting you to ask you to take a couple of minutes of your time and send him a little card and pass along this information to all of your friends so this chain message doesn't stop. I thank all of you for your effort that will make my Manu incredibly happy.”
What happened next far surpassed any and all of Parisseaux’s expectations. His Facebook friends obliged, sharing his message on the social network, and then friends of friends did the same. The “chain message,” as Parisseaux put it, quickly took on a life of its own, and within weeks, it had been shared more than 100,000 times.
Soon, the cards started pouring in. Thousands upon thousands of them were sent to Manuel’s home in Calais, France.
On the Friday morning before Manuel’s birthday, the letter carrier reportedly had to use a truck to deliver the 5,000 letters and cards that had arrived for the young man. "In the 20 years I've worked for the postal service, I've never seen this before,” the postal worker told France 3.
Bags filled with Manuel's cards and letters
In an update on Facebook posted Sunday, Parisseaux effusively thanked the thousands of people around the world who took the time to send something to his son. Parisseaux wrote that Manuel has received more than 42,000 cards and letters thus far. “Thank you with all our hearts,” he wrote.
“I don’t understand why it got so big. Manuel is like us, he is moved to tears,” his mother Jacqueline Parisseaux said, per the BBC.
The family reportedly received cards, letters and packages from places as far as the United States, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. Among the gifts were boxes of chocolate and even cakes.
According to the BBC, the deluge of cards and gifts has been so overwhelming that the family has had to store some of it in a neighbor’s garage.
For more on this story, watch this video, which is in French, about Manuel's special birthday surprise: