On Sunday, more than 200 people showed up for 7-year-old Adonai Gutierrez's surprise birthday do-over. Sadly, nobody showed up for his first with the exception of a few close family members.
It was truly a community effort. Even those who couldn't attend sent cards, gifts, and donations for the party. Business like Cali Jump Houses offered up free bounce houses for hours and individuals brought pizza, snacks, and beverages. Even a flashy car was offered up for Adonai to arrive in style.
Adonai was delighted, even overwhelmed you could say.
Ryan Boone, Adrian Arias Gonzales, and Adriana Anya Acosta were three key players. Before Adonai's aunt posted in the Good Neighbors of Woodland Facebook group asking for birthday cards, none of them knew Adonai or even each other. Who would've thought a simple Facebook post could inspire strangers to do so much.
"There's [sadly] a lot of kids this happens to," said Ryan. "Something inside if your heart touches you."
Ryan said he knows what it's like to be bullied and as a kid, he also had some horrific experiences with birthday parties.
Adrian has had them too, even now as an adult.
"As an adult, I've had people not show up to my birthday parties," said Adrian. "And I've felt bad. I can't even imagine for a child."
On Tuesday, Adonai had another surprise coming. Sacramento Kings mascot Slamson, emcee Scott Fresh, and Sacramento Kings Dancers all showed up at his door with a special gift box.
Inside the box were jerseys, clothing, balls, an autographed jersey, 10 VIP Suite tickets for an upcoming game and handmade cards by employees of every department with the Kings' organization.
Adonai also had a chance to hang out with Slamson on the special Kings' RV.
"I like this guy," said Adonai, talking about Slamson. The dancers he didn't seem to be too interested in (that'll change when he turns 13, we're sure.)
It was the cherry on top for what was already an incredible birthday do-over for Adonai. And just by showing that they cared, everyone involved did more than they know.
"Seeing him get everything, I wasn't expecting this. To see him so happy," said Ofelia Mercado, Adonai's grandmother. "He's been through so much."
What the hundreds of strangers touched by Adonai's story don't know is the back story. His father passed away when he was only 1 years old and he's often bullied at school.
"He always came home crying, [saying] he doesn't want to go back to school. He said people are so mean to him," explained Ofelia. "He said 'one day, the kids threw my food on the floor. They stepped on it and made me eat the lunch.'"
But with all the recent attention, Ofelia said that's already starting to change.
"He said 'Nana, when I went to school, everyone was looking at me. Adonai, you're famous now. Can I play with you?'" said Ofelia. "Adonai has a good heart. He said 'sure.' He said 'everyone's nice to me [and it] feels so strange.'"
As for his VIP tickets to a Kings' game this upcoming season...
"He's so happy and excited. He's making plans already. 'When are we gonna go, Nana? Who's going to come?'" said Ofelia. "I asked are you going to invite your friends? He said 'What friends Nana? I have my family.'"
So now, there's only one more question: How will Adonai celebrate his eighth birthday next year?
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