Call for a better birthday for autistic Maine teen goes viral

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BANGOR, MAINE >> A woman's Facebook post calling for people to help her autistic cousin have a better birthday has been shared more than 140,000 times on the social media website.

Rebecca Guildford, of Oxford, Massachusetts, started the flood of interest in her 18-year-old cousin, Hallee Sorenson of Bangor, Maine, by posting a picture of Sorenson sitting alone in a bowling alley last year at a birthday party that Guildford said no one attended.

Guildford wrote that Sorenson was heartbroken and hurt by the experience and deserves a big celebration for her 19th birthday next month. Guildford is asking people to "flood her mailbox" with birthday cards and letters, and included an address in the Facebook post.

"This would mean a lot to her mother as well, for as you can imagine, watching your child cry into her birthday cake breaks your heart," Guildford wrote. "If there is anyone who deserves a great birthday, this is the girl."

Guildford's post Tuesday and has generated news coverage as far away as Australia, as well as an outpouring of sympathy for the young woman.

Guildford later posted that many people have asked if they can send gifts. She said it's not necessary but her cousin does love puzzles, baby dolls, costume jewelry and anything related to zoo animals.

Sorenson wanted to go bowling and eat cake and ice cream for her birthday last year; the family sent invitations to her classmates and friends, Guildford wrote. Sorenson sat anxiously awaiting their arrival, but no one showed up, she wrote.

Plans for a birthday party next month are in the works, Guildford wrote. The family plans on having a much bigger party this year.


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