Celebrating birthday in a big way

1,019 cards and counting

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Birthday cards have filled the mailbox at Scott and Sonja Hayes’ house in recent days to celebrate Scott’s 52nd birthday on April 13. As of Tuesday afternoon, Scott has received 1,018 cards.

Sonja had asked friends on Facebook to help her make the day special for her husband, who has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“He has received cards from friends, family, strangers, schools, businesses and churches from our community, state, nation and Canada,” Sonja said.

Cards have come in from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Washington, Utah, Arizona, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Indiana and Oregon.

“Most of those came from other second-grade teachers,” said Sonja, who teaches second grade at Elm City Elementary School and is Facebook friends with other teachers across the country. She has been told more cards are on the way.

Many of the cards were made by children and are decorated in crayon with sweet messages and colorful drawings of rainbows, flowers, hearts, balloons and animals. Students in a Henrietta, New York, class included riddles on their cards.

The first box of cards arrived from a pen pal class in Texas about two weeks before Scott’s birthday.

“His face just lit up,” Sonja said.

As the cards started coming in, Sonja made a point to read each one to her husband — the many store-bought cards as well as the handmade ones. She then displayed them around the house.

When she first asked people to send cards to Scott, Sonja had a goal of 52 cards, which she quickly surpassed.

She later posted that she would love for Scott to get 18,993 cards — that’s one for each day he had been alive by his birthday. She doesn’t think they will make that goal, but she is so happy with every single one that he has received.

Sonja didn’t really expect the tremendous outpouring after her initial request when she wrote, “I want to make this birthday extra special for my honey because he has always outdone himself for me,” she wrote. “His gifts are always so thoughtful. He deserves all this love and attention.”

Sonja said she just wanted Scott to realize that so many people care about him, including strangers.“Everyone has made my husband feel special, and that means the most,” she said.

It’s not too late to send a birthday card to Scott. Mail cards to Scott Hayes, 1403 Dixon Court, Wilson, NC 27896.

“We’re celebrating his birthday all month,” Sonja said.

ALS is short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It’s a progressive degenerative disease that leads to loss of muscle movement and paralysis.

Scott was diagnosed in the summer of 2014.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810