A mom asked for a “young man” to be friends with her 24-year-old son with Down Syndrome and it immediately went viral.
Donna Herter, a nurse on the night shift, made a Facebook post for her son, Christian Bowers.
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“I’ll pay you to be my son’s friend,” she wrote. “All you have to do is sit with him and play video games in his room. Nothing else.”
Herter was overwhelmed when she saw the response the next morning.
“Just when you think there’s nothing but hate in the world, something like this happens and shows you there’s hope,” Herter wrote.
Christian was homecoming king in high school, but since graduating it’s been difficult making friends and it was heartbreaking for his mom to hear people say they would hang out with him but never show up.
All that changed when she put out her plea on social media and it’s been a wild ride that Herter has been documenting on her Facebook page.
Marines invited him to go bowling at the Fort Leonard Wood base. He got a visit from a pig named Glamorous Gertie. And his story has gone international. Christian was recently named the honorary mayor of Wentzville for a day.
After combing through months of invites, Christian now has at least seven men who visit once a week on a rotating schedule, CBS News reports.
One of them, James Hastings of Troy, Missouri, who previously taught life skills to people with disabilities before becoming a police officer, has met him several times, usually playing video games.
“Christian has taught me to look at the world for more than what we see on the surface,” Hasting told CBS. “Just because someone is different than what you are used to, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t the same at heart.”
Christian’s mom said he brags about his friends now and goes to sleep with a smile because of the one-on-one friendships.
“The love being shown to our son is amazing,” said Herter. “Christian says having friends over feels like heaven. He goes to bed with a smile on his face and when he talks to himself, I know he is replaying everything.”
But Christian wasn’t the only one to receive tons of friendship offers. Other parents of kids with special needs commented on his post and connected with offers to make play dates and similar friendships.
“Everybody needs a friend,” Herter said. “I thought about it one day. I just sat there and I was like, ‘What if I have zero friends? What if I had literally not one person to call, to talk to, to hang out, to have lunch with.’ And man, it just really hit me thinking about that, how lonely that would be.”
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Caleb Parke is the SMG managing editor. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and connect with him at calebparke.com.