Mom gets 1 RSVP to a party for her son with autism. Then a football team arrives

An Idaho mom remained plucky about her son’s ninth birthday party, although only one girl RSVP’d.

“We will make it a great party,” wrote Lindsay Larsen in a lengthy Facebook post sharing the lack of responses to the boy’s invitations and a plea for everyone to “make time for compassion.”.

Luckily, someone did.

A family friend knew that Christian, who has autism, deserved better. She contacted her friend, a high school football coach, and players showed up, making it the boy’s best birthday ever.

“He didn’t question why they were there,” Larsen told USA TODAY. “He just lived in the moment.”.

Larsen said he even broke his glasses in the first five minutes of playing football.

“But he just rolled with it. That was amazing!” she said. “It often doesn’t take much for him to be shaken up. He tends to be a perfectionist so something going ‘wrong’ can be really hard to handle.”

(The glasses were under warranty, so no big deal there.).

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‘Above and beyond’

The Larsen family lives in Meridian, Idaho. Family friend Blythe Ben-David lives in South Texas but after reading the Facebook post her thoughts turned to Dan Holtry, who is the coach for the Idaho Nampa High School football team.

“Dan is a great guy and I knew if anyone could help it was him,” Ben-David said in an email. “And I put him in touch with Lindsay and he went above and beyond! This was just a small thing that blossomed into something beautiful and bigger than all of us.”

Holtry sent the players a text letting them know about the June party. They RSPV’d within seconds.

“They responded not so much because I am their coach, but because they are outstanding young men and have very good parents,” Holtry said. “We take care of each other here at Nampa and Christian’s birthday was an opportunity to take care of someone.”.

‘The kids started playing together’

Larsen said before the football players showed up, Christian was playing around the girl who showed up, another from his class who came, his siblings and family friends. “But not engaging too much,” wandering off and then coming back.

The players arrived and the party dynamic changed, she said. But more than that, so did her son.

“When the players arrived, all of the kids started playing together. They were so excited and it was the first time I’d seen Christian joining in, in a sport with his peers,” she said. “He can become overwhelmed by the noise, and movement of games, and their uncertain nature.”.

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He didn’t and that made this, his first “class” birthday party ever, the best party ever for her, too.

“It was amazing that he felt comfortable with these new friends, and played with them! He responded with excitement.”.


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