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Classmates don't show up for West Lawn boy's birthday, but community steps in and makes it happy

Community steps in after classmates don't show up for West Lawn boy's birthday
Community steps in after classmates don't show up for West Lawn boy's birthday 02:49

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Every kid looks forward to their birthday party – but Josue Roblez's 8th did not go as planned.

But as CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Monday night, a community jumped in and saved Josue's day. It was more than just gifts – they showed love to an 8-year-old with autism.

For hours on the day he was supposed to have his birthday party, Josue stared out the window at his home.

"It was 5 o'clock. He was getting anxious. He kept looking out the window, like, 'Mommy, they're going to be here soon!'" said Josue's mother, Bianca Calderon.

Josue's excitement centered around his birthday party – and the anticipation of his friends coming on Saturday. He invited every kid in the class - yet after looking out the window for hours, tears began to fill the birthday boy's face.

"He told me before this happened, he said, 'Mommy, I don't want to remember Saturday again,'" said Calderon.

It still pains Josue that not a single classmate showed up. The same goes for his mom.

"It was really tough - seeing your son cry and be full of sadness – it's one of the most painful things, and especially with his situation," Calderon said. "Him being autistic, he doesn't speak up."

So mom posted her son's disappointment to Facebook.

She wrote in the West Lawn Neighbors group: "If any mommies can help me, can you make a happy birthday card with your little one and send it to my son…. I just want to fix this and him not feel as sad as he was today."

Cecilia Mannion read the post and decided, "We're going to help this young boy."

Mannion works as an advocate with Enlace Chicago and the nonprofit Families Seeking Justice. She contacted Josue's mother.

"And I said, 'We're going to do a surprise for him,'" Mannion said.

Mannion got nearly 60 folks to meet at Josue's house for a birthday parade. One by one, those in the caravan handed out gifts, money - and most importantly,  birthday cards for Josue.

Josue is still reading those cards days later. He was reading one of them when we visited: "Happy birthday Josue, you are special."

Josue's mother put her vulnerable state and her raw emotions out there for the world to see – and her West Lawn neighborhood community stepped up.

"They responded," Calderon said. "They took action."

Mannion added, "That's trauma that little boy he's going to live with - that's trauma." But she flipped the narrative, and she said, "It made me feel happy."

As we talked to Josue Monday, gifts were still coming for the house from strangers.

"Your little seed can make something blossom to happiness like this," Calderon said.

And now the worst birthday has left Josue to believe it actually turned out to be his best.

"Thank you for all of this," Josue said. "I hope this feeling will never end."

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