(WCBD) — About a month ago, WCBD brought you the story of Ayden, a young boy with autism who was bullied at school and didn’t think he had any friends. His parents started a project to help him realize how many people care about him, and asked the community to mail Ayden birthday cards. They surprised Ayden with those cards at his birthday party Sunday. Coming from as far away as Australia, Japan, and Guam, 700 letters and another 100 gifts sent to Ayden for his birthday. The gifts range from toys to special souvenirs from across the globe.
Not only did Ayden receive more than 800 cards and gifts from people around the world, he received a box of 195 handmade cards from the students at Cane Bay High School and most of them had a similar theme, Ayden’s favorite thing: monkey.
Ayden Venneman says, “Yeah, it was like really cool. Some of them actually looked like my monkey.”
Ayden’s mother, Amanda Venneman, says, “Reading through them, I mean I was crying last night as I was reading them and looking at them. The kids took their time with it and I mean, to see a child taking their time to draw and to write a story to my son who they don’t even know, you can’t even really put it into words how much it means.”
But since we brought you Ayden’s story a month ago, there have been some big changes at school.
Ayden says, “I have more friends now, people aren’t bullying me.”
Amanda says,”I think the parents or the kids even saw the story and it kind of helped them understand Ayden a little bit better because Ayden is a little bit different. And I think that actually helped a lot because Ayden was never really able to explain, I have autism, I’m a little bit different.”
Some of the kids from Ayden’s class even came to his birthday party at Velocity Air Sports, along with members of the North Charleston Fire Department. When Ayden saw that box of cards, he had the exact reaction his parents had hoped for.
Ayden says, “I’m going to have a lot of friends. A lot of them.”
Amanda says, “This world is not as bad as people think it is. There are those good people in this world that do care and that do love people other than themselves.”
And Ayden has a message for everyone who helped make his birthday unforgettable.
He says, “Thank you for sending me all the stuff. Thank you so much. Thank you.”
Along with the gifts and cards, Ayden received over $300 in cash and more than $150 in gift cards. Ayden’s mom says he wants to buy a video game system with the money, but she’s going to try to convince him to put it in savings.