Ollie was looking forward to his 9th birthday. At least, he was until he ran into his neighborhood bully. According to tweets from Ollie’s father, Christopher Hope-Smith, the bully told Ollie that his birthday could never compare to the bully’s.
As the birthday approached, Ollie hung his head. He thought he “shouldn’t be here,” reports the Telegraph. The bully’s words had lodged themselves deep in his heart. That’s when his father took action.
“Strange request,” Hope-Smith tweeted. “Anyone know anyone famous/well-known who could send Ollie a positive 9th birthday message?”
He was just looking for “someone to tell him he does mean something,” Hope-Smith wrote.
As it turns out, “someone” answered the call. Actually, a lot of “someones” replied, and you’re bound to recognize a few names. Over the coming days, Hope-Smith’s tweet would be shared thousands of times. A staggering number of celebrities, from actors to singers to astronauts, responded with kind birthday wishes for the boy.
Even Monica Lewinsky, who works to prevent online bullying, responded, too, telling the boy that she was “rooting for [him] always.”
But Ollie’s troupe of birthday well-wishers wasn’t just limited to celebrities. His family lives in Leeds, England, and many top names in the government and cultural institutions of Great Britain got in on the birthday party.
“Happy birthday Ollie from all at Westminster Abbey,” tweeted, well, Westminster Abbey. “Remember: The angels are on your side.”
Singer Dionne Warwick weighed in with a birthday greeting.
She told the boy to “Shoot for the stars and always be kind,” which is good advice for any age.
The Wales Comic Con responded with free tickets to the December event. Puffin Books sent Ollie a stack of children’s classics. Even the English national soccer team invited Ollie for a game in September, presumably free of charge.
Most of the tweets were full of encouraging messages, and many made a point to denounce online bullying. English hip hop star
“Don’t watch the bullies,” he wrote. “They always end up being the biggest
There was even a message from outer space.
Astronaut Tim Peake texted to wish the boy a happy birthday, and tweeted, “Just remember – a bully is a person too scared to do the right thing. Aim high dude!”
In the days since the avalanche of positivity, Hope-Smith appears to have deleted his Twitter account. He is also not making statements to the media. Before deleting his account, he tweeted, “Did not expect the reaction it has received. I for one thank each & every one of you.” After a reminder for everyone to be nice to one another, Hope-Smith’s Twitter account disappeared. It’s likely that he never banked on getting this much attention.
One thing is for sure, though: Ollie had a 9th birthday he’ll never forget.