Shuswap boy to get 'socks blown off' by Deadpool and wave of community support | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Shuswap boy to get 'socks blown off' by Deadpool and wave of community support

Cards have poured in.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Damien Smith's Birthday Facebook
October 27, 2020 - 6:30 AM

When Damien Smith turns nine next month, he's going to be let in on a very poorly kept secret.

A lot of people care about him. Hundreds — including B.C.'s most beloved export, Ryan Reynolds — have gone out of their way to let him know and he'll find out how his story spurred them into action on his birthday.

"The whole story is snowballing, and it's hard to hold onto," Tiffany Trudell said. 

It all began when Trudell, her husband Thomas Smith and four children, moved to the Shuswap from Coquitlam last month. Damien's birthday is at the end of November, and when Trudell recently asked her firstborn if he was excited, he said "no, I'm just going to be lonely."

Ryan Reynolds reached out to Damien Smith's family after hearing his story.
Ryan Reynolds reached out to Damien Smith's family after hearing his story.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Damien Smith birthday Facebook

She knew he was struggling with the isolation brought on by COVID-19 and moving and has been having trouble making friends. But it's the type of response that would make any mother's heart hurt, so Trudell decided she'd try and do something to buoy his spirits and put out a call for birthday cards through her social media channels.

"We thought he'd get cards from family and a couple of groups we're active in, then we would put them aside and would wait," she said.

There was no putting it aside, though. Something about the request resonated with people and the attention has been intense.

The family has been inundated with goodwill and so far they've counted 290 cards and she has no doubt more are on the way.

"We've been really surprised, we didn't think it would get so big," Trudell said.

She especially didn't think it would get Ryan Reynolds big.

That happened when the story travelled beyond social media and landed on news desks. She's been interviewed multiple times and was inevitably asked questions about what Damien is into. Among other things, she's told them he's a Deadpool fan, so when someone posed a hypothetical question of 'what would he think if Ryan Reynolds reached out?" She said, "oh, god, he'd lose it" not thinking much of it.

Then, not long after, "ping — Ryan Reynolds."

"We were like, 'what the hell's happening,'" she said.

It's an amazing gesture, she said, and she's watched the video message over and over again, knowing that when Damien's birthday rolls around and he finally gets to see the clip, birthday No. 9 will go down as tops in his personal history.

"It's going to blow his socks off. The message was good and heartfelt," she said. "(Reynolds) said he relates to what he's going through."

That's the type of empathetic sentiment she's appreciated seeing because the isolation and loneliness that Damien is feeling is what's at the heart of this entire effort.

While moving and COVID-19 have put a strain on him, there are also some longer-standing concerns that they hoped this effort would address.

"We wanted a card with a handwritten message, for us to help him learn how to read," she said. "He struggles with confidence with reading, so I thought we could take the cards and slowly read them with him. The messages would cheer him up and give him an incentive to read."

While much of what's happened since she made the call for cards has been overwhelmingly positive it's not without some downsides.

One is that some people have taken to their keyboards to point out they don't think that Damien deserves special treatment. He's no different than anyone else, they've said.

And Trudell agrees, to some extent.

What he's going through is not unlike what "tons of kids are feeling." The point is, she said, nobody should feel that way.

"They should all get cards, too. But we want him to know if you put yourself out there people will like you," she said.

"'People care, don't give up.' If I was told that at his age I would be a different person. I would have been more confident. And he'll know he fits in. He's insecure, but everyone is rooting for him. All of the town is rooting for him."

She also wants people to know that she's appreciative of the gifts that have been sent, but Damien doesn't need them. The words are what he needs — a push of encouragement to plow ahead with confidence that people are with him.

With that in mind, she wants people to know that the gift cards received will be paid forward to another cause.

They're appreciated, but not needed.

In the meantime, there's still time to pen a card and send it to: Damien Smith, PO Box 321, Canoe, B.C., Canada, V0E1K0. The video of Reynolds will be released Nov. 23. For more information, go to their Facebook page. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in the comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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