Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)

Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

Talking about his 9th birthday, Damien Smith is a boy of few words, but all of them are filled with joy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020, marked a most memorable birthday for the young Canoe resident who, thanks to his mother Tiffanie Trudell and father Thomas Smith, was able to celebrate with the knowledge that many others were celebrating with him.

“I’ve been in tears almost this whole time so I’m exhausted from crying,” said Trudell, whose tears of joy began falling on Saturday when she and Thomas revealed to their son the results of “Damien’s Birthday Project.”

The project began in October, approximately two weeks after the family moved to the area, with a public post on Facebook. In it, Thomas and Trudell explained Damien’s birthday was coming up and how, when asked if he was excited about it, the eight-year-old replied, “No, I’m just going to be lonely.”

To remedy this, and the fact that a birthday party was looking unlikely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the heartbroken parents asked if anyone would be interested in sending their son birthday cards in the mail.

Those broken hearts were quickly filled with happiness as people from all over the world began responding to their post. Soon, Thomas and Trudell were making clandestine trips to the post office, gathering bundles of envelopes and parcels addressed to their son while trying not to spoil the surprise.

And then came the message from Canadian celebrity and Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds. With Damien being a big fan of Reynold’s “merc with the a mouth,” friends of the family helped bring Thomas and Trudell’s post to Reynolds’ attention.

Trudell said it was at dinner time when she received a text from Reynolds and learned he’d be sending her son a special video message. She and Thomas finally got to share that video with Damien over the weekend.

“Frozen,” is how Damien said he felt while watching as Reynolds spoke directly to him.

Trudell, who has been brought to tears on more than one occasion by Reynolds’ involvement, said she expected his video message might be more humorous and light. While some of that is there, it is also personal, emotional and supportive.

Read more: Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Read more: ‘I’m just going to be lonely’: Shuswap family asks for help celebrating son’s birthday

“It was the most perfect video I could have ever expected,” said Trudell. “It’s easy to joke and be like, ‘ha ha happy birthday,’ but to really pull himself down from his stardom and be like, ‘I have been where you are,’ that was a really beautiful thing that he did for my son – To take the time out of his day just to say, ‘Hey, you’re just like me.’”

On the Deadpool theme, Damien also received a Deadpool birthday cake by Amanda Gage of Cake Creations. The Shuswap chapter of Bikers are Buddies, whose members took part in a community birthday parade that drove past Damien’s home over the weekend, also gave him a Leap Pad which, along with the cards, are to help Damien with his reading.

Tiffanie and Thomas have been reading the cards, received from Ireland, Russia, Mexico, Scotland, the U.S. and, of course, Canada, together with Damien. They also plan on sending out thank-you cards.

Back home from school on his birthday, Damien had only one word to describe the celebrations so far: “Nuts!”

Trudell and Thomas are relieved they no longer have to keep Damien’s Birthday Project a secret, and grateful for everyone who has contributed to the experience.

“Seeing Damien’s face makes me feel like I’ve done a good job as a mom…,” said Trudell.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Salmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

That’s Houston physician Dr. Stefanie Steel receiving her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 19, 2021 from RN nurse manager Cindy Cockle. (Northern Health photo)
First Houston vaccinations take place

Long term care residents, health care workers on list

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

COVID-19 exposure reported at Houston Secondary. (Houston Today photo)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Houston Secondary School

Self-monitoring for symptoms encouraged

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read