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In Search Of...Draven's Birthday Wish

By Jennifer Livingston, jlivingston@wkbt.com
Published On: Mar 15 2013 08:37:36 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 15 2013 02:08:49 PM CDT
VIOLA, Wis. -

The 6th grade Student Activities Council at DeSoto Middle school is hard at work on it's latest project. "All of the members have the same goal in mind which is to make the world a better place. It's the pay it forward concept," says teacher Stephanie Ritter.

They are the do-gooders of the school, all volunteers who tackle tasks big and small. But this latest project is all to benefit a boy they've never even met.

Viola's Draven Hallam is a special boy with special needs. "He was diagnosed as autistic when he was three," says mom Julie.

And living life with autism can sometimes difficult. "Day to day stuff is really challenging. They feel trapped and alone and you can feel like it's you against the world. He can get really depressed because he can get really frustrated and he says he wishes he was never born. It's the worst. The worst ever."

One of the things that always seems to brighten Draven's spirits is talking about his birthday - sometimes months in advance. "He's always really focused on something. Some years it's the cake, some years it's the present. This year it was the cards. And he kept talking about it and talking about it. So I posted on my Facebook page to my friends if someone wants to make him smile...and me, because I cannot here this another second, please send him a card."

Julie had no idea what was about to happen. Friends of hers started sharing with friends of theirs.  And they shared with their friends. And suddenly Draven's birthday card wish was everywhere.

"Julie is not a woman that I know. Julie has a son named Draven. And she posted that people send her son some birthday cards. So when I saw that status I came in the next day and said 'emergency SAT meeting. We need to send some cards to this boy."
"We got all the supplies out and we started grabbing some cards..."

"Gel pens, some stamps and markers."

They created card after card after card.  "I hope we can make his birthday a little happier."

On the big day, the mail truck makes it's way down their snowy Viola street with Draven anxiously waiting - hoping someone will remember.

Turns out Miss Ritter wasn't the only one who wanted to make a difference. "I thought, 'I'm going to have one day where I'm going to get a couple of extra cards,' but to have people that really, honestly care...is truly overwhelming to me."

"This is the best birthday ever."

"Even though it may have been a little card or a stamp or a message. Every single one means so much to me and to my whole family.

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