ONLY ON 3: Teen with autism asks for birthday cards, gets dozens from all over U.S.


NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A teenager with autism in New Hanover County is getting lots of attention from all over the U.S.

All it takes to make Dante’s birthday wish come true is a letter in the mail.

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“Dante likes to get cards in the mail,” Dante’s mom Linda Lee said. “Dante likes to get mail.”

Lee said, last year, she wanted to make his birthday extra special.

“I sat down one night and I saw Wilmington Pay It Forward,” Lee said.

She asked the administrator of the Facebook page if she could request birthday cards for her son.

“And she said sure and that’s where it started,” Lee said.

From Virginia to New York, the cards started rolling in from all over the U.S.

“When he would get them, he would drop them in his box and sing his song,” Lee said.

Lee says each letter plays a much bigger role on Dante’s special day.”

“A lot of kids that have birthdays, they know what to expect,” Lee said. “They have people come over and have a big birthday party. With him a lot of times, it’s just family. To see the cards and the people sending cards, it lets me know there are a lot people out there that care.”

That is why she said it is overwhelming to watch him open 60 or 70 cards.

“It means a lot to me, because he definitely understands that the mail is coming in and it is for him, so that one day or that couple of days it’s just an overwhelming feeling for him to know, ‘Look, somebody thought enough of me to send me cards, so I’m special too,'” Lee said.

This year, one card, had Dante dancing and cracking jokes in our interview.
“I got $15!” Dante said.

Money or no money, Lee said each card is special.

“We are going to put each card in a big book each year and date it,” Lee said. “So hopefully when he gets older, he can look back over his memories.”

Because she said these are the memories that remind them how much people care.

Dante’s mom is already planning on doing this again next year. His birthday is August 1.