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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:

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