A 10-year-old gets the birthday of a lifetime after no one says they're coming.
True
Facebook

It's a rare occurrence when a professional football player shows up to your 10th birthday party. Especially when he wasn't originally invited.

But then again, Mackenzie Moretter's 10th birthday didn't turn out to be your average party.


All images by Keighla's Fresh Face Photography, used with permission.

Mackenzie lives in Shakopee, Minnesota, and had planned on celebrating her big day with kids her age in her backyard.

When every single guest declined Mackenzie's invitation, it looked like her birthday party was going to fall through.

Heartbreak and panic began to set in. Mackenzie's mom, Jenny Moretter, knew she needed to figure out a backup plan fast.

Mackenzie was born with a rare genetic disorder called Sotos syndrome that's made it difficult for her to make friends. The disorder has caused developmental delays and excessive physical growth during her childhood.

"She’s bubbly and she’s caring when you get to know her," Jenny told Upworthy. With Mackenzie's party only a day away — and no one coming — she knew she had to do something.

Jenny got online and, quite hesitantly, started posting her family's predicament in some local groups on Facebook.

Her goal was to hopefully get a couple of moms to bring their kids over to say "happy birthday" to Mackenzie. Nothing big.

But that's not what happened.

The posts she put up on Facebook received a ton of responses and spread to other groups — and then nationally. News stations began to call their house. Community members started asking to help plan the party. Local businesses committed to catering and decorating. A GoFundMe campaign was set up to cover all of the costs. A Facebook invite launched. The party went from being held in their small backyard to a local park. All within 11 hours.

Image by Facebook, used with permission.

The next day, when Mackenzie and her family showed up at the park, they couldn't believe what they saw.

Elsa from Frozen was there.

NFL Vikings player Charles Johnson came by with his family.


A DJ was there. Local firefighters showed up. A photographer, too. The place was flowing with pizza and cupcakes. A dream!

More than 350 complete strangers came out to celebrate Mackenzie's big day.

The mayor of their town Shakopee even declared it "Mackenzie Moretter Day." How many 10-year-olds get a day named after them?!

"I have a hard time making friends in school, but thanks to all of you … my voice was heard," Mackenzie told the crowd, according to KARE 11. "I love you all."


It's a day that will be remembered forever.

"I can’t explain it," Jenny said. "It was the most amazing thing that could have happened to our family. The outpouring support of strangers. People sending cards and calling. We received cards from all over the world: China, Ireland, even a personal letter from a supreme court judge."

And best of all? It's helped Mackenzie to find her voice.

"She speaks her mind freely now and is more confident."

Sometimes things don't go as expected in life, and sometimes your backup plan turns into the greatest plan of all.

"It's showed me the importance of spreading a message of acceptance, tolerance and love beyond just our home. And it's given Mackenzie a new voice and confidence, I never thought I'd see. This has truly been a life-changing experience for our whole family."

It's the ultimate gift. See more from Mackenzie's special day in this KARE 11 exclusive:

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

Keep Reading Show less
True


Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.