Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)

Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

Talking about his 9th birthday, Damien Smith is a boy of few words, but all of them are filled with joy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020, marked a most memorable birthday for the young Canoe resident who, thanks to his mother Tiffanie Trudell and father Thomas Smith, was able to celebrate with the knowledge that many others were celebrating with him.

“I’ve been in tears almost this whole time so I’m exhausted from crying,” said Trudell, whose tears of joy began falling on Saturday when she and Thomas revealed to their son the results of “Damien’s Birthday Project.”

The project began in October, approximately two weeks after the family moved to the area, with a public post on Facebook. In it, Thomas and Trudell explained Damien’s birthday was coming up and how, when asked if he was excited about it, the eight-year-old replied, “No, I’m just going to be lonely.”

To remedy this, and the fact that a birthday party was looking unlikely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the heartbroken parents asked if anyone would be interested in sending their son birthday cards in the mail.

Those broken hearts were quickly filled with happiness as people from all over the world began responding to their post. Soon, Thomas and Trudell were making clandestine trips to the post office, gathering bundles of envelopes and parcels addressed to their son while trying not to spoil the surprise.

And then came the message from Canadian celebrity and Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds. With Damien being a big fan of Reynold’s “merc with the a mouth,” friends of the family helped bring Thomas and Trudell’s post to Reynolds’ attention.

Trudell said it was at dinner time when she received a text from Reynolds and learned he’d be sending her son a special video message. She and Thomas finally got to share that video with Damien over the weekend.

“Frozen,” is how Damien said he felt while watching as Reynolds spoke directly to him.

Trudell, who has been brought to tears on more than one occasion by Reynolds’ involvement, said she expected his video message might be more humorous and light. While some of that is there, it is also personal, emotional and supportive.

Read more: Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Read more: ‘I’m just going to be lonely’: Shuswap family asks for help celebrating son’s birthday

“It was the most perfect video I could have ever expected,” said Trudell. “It’s easy to joke and be like, ‘ha ha happy birthday,’ but to really pull himself down from his stardom and be like, ‘I have been where you are,’ that was a really beautiful thing that he did for my son – To take the time out of his day just to say, ‘Hey, you’re just like me.’”

On the Deadpool theme, Damien also received a Deadpool birthday cake by Amanda Gage of Cake Creations. The Shuswap chapter of Bikers are Buddies, whose members took part in a community birthday parade that drove past Damien’s home over the weekend, also gave him a Leap Pad which, along with the cards, are to help Damien with his reading.

Tiffanie and Thomas have been reading the cards, received from Ireland, Russia, Mexico, Scotland, the U.S. and, of course, Canada, together with Damien. They also plan on sending out thank-you cards.

Back home from school on his birthday, Damien had only one word to describe the celebrations so far: “Nuts!”

Trudell and Thomas are relieved they no longer have to keep Damien’s Birthday Project a secret, and grateful for everyone who has contributed to the experience.

“Seeing Damien’s face makes me feel like I’ve done a good job as a mom…,” said Trudell.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Salmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Williams Lake First Nation provides a community COVID-19 update Friday, Jan. 15. (Williams Lake First Nation Facebook image)
Williams Lake First Nation Chief highlights importance of mental health amid COVID-19 outbreak

A time to be forgiving, sincere and loving, says Willie Sellars

Interior Health confirmed Friday, Jan. 15, there are now six staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 at Cariboo Memorial Hospital. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
UPDATE: Six Cariboo Memorial Hospital staff members test positive for COVID-19

Interior Health said Friday, Jan. 15 testing is ongoing

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

The worker who tested positive was en route to the Mine Site near Wells. (BGM Map)
Wells mining company detects second positive COVID-19 case of 2021

The employee, who is asympomatic, had no known contact with Wells or Quesnel

Cale Murdock, 23, has been training with the Williams Lake Blue Fins and is hoping for an opportunity to compete at the Canadian Olympic Trials in April in Toronto, depending on whether they still take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Blue Fins swimmer Cale Murdock preparing for Canadian Olympic Trials in April

Cale Murdock was selected as one of the top 20 swimmers in the country in his events to attend

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality