Thomas Daniel was having a bad day back in April of 2019 – and it was made even worse by the fact that it was the 9-year-old’s birthday.
His family had recently immigrated to Grand Rapids, Michigan from Tanzania and he was having trouble fitting in at school. Other students were bullying him, and that day he managed to miss the school bus.
Seeing a boy in need
Austin Lynema was just 22 and 6 months into his job as a police officer when he saw Daniel running down the street with tears in his eyes. He was finishing up a call and decided to stop and see if there was anything he could do for the boy.
“When I pulled up next to him, he just kind of stopped and looked at me,” Lynema told CNN. “I asked him if he needed help and he just kind of shook his head.”
Daniel eventually told the officer that he was upset because he missed the bus and really wanted to go to school. The straight-A student hadn’t missed a day yet.
Lynema asked for permission from the boy’s mother to take him to school. And on the way there, Daniel admitted something else.
“Thomas confided in me that he didn’t think that anybody else would show up to his birthday party” said Lynema, “because he was being bullied at school.”
We can only imagine how the young boy felt when his worst expectations were confirmed – none of his classmates showed up to his birthday party.
But Daniel did get one big surprise – a police car pulled up with two people not on the guestlist – Lynema and his partner. The birthday boy was thrilled.
“I ring the doorbell and he comes out of his balcony and sees me and my partner. He’s jumping up and down, smiles and he can’t believe that we actually were able to show up.”
That 9th birthday could have been a disaster – a harsh memory that he had yet to make friends.
So when Lynema saw there were no kids, no gifts, and no cake, he went a step further. The next day he came back with a couple of other officers and some treats.
“I was able to get permission to get Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for him – personalized ‘Happy birthday,’” Lynema said. Another gift: a bag of Grand Rapids Police swag. “We weren’t going to let a nine year old not have a party,” he said.
The sweet story made headlines around the country and the Grand Rapids Police Department posted the story to their Facebook page.
After that, people who felt bad for the 9-year-old began sending him birthday cards and other well-wishes. Facebook commenters were even directed to send any gifts to Officer Lyema at the police department so he could deliver them in person.
Best birthday ever
When all was said and done, Daniel declared his 9th birthday “the best birthday ever.”
The department said they would attend next year as well, should they get an invitation, so the boy won’t have to worry about no one showing up to his birthday party ever again. How sweet is that?
Be sure to scroll down below to see an interview with Thomas Daniela and Officer Lynema!
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