Desperate Mom Puts Out Ad to Hire Friends For Lonely Son With Down Syndrome — The Response is Shocking
Everyone deserves a friend.
When Donna Herter’s son, Christian Bowers, came to her asking when his friends were coming over, her mama’s heart broke. Born with Down syndrome, the 24-year-old had lost touch with his high school friends and was now, sadly, friendless.
Like any parent, Herter just wanted Christian to be happy. So, she decided to do something about it.
After a late-night nursing shift, the desperate mom turned to social media for help and boy, did it deliver.
A Mother’s Desperate Plea For Her Lonely Son
Herter posted a gutwrenching ad on Facebook, offering $80 in exchange for hanging out with her son for two hours twice a month.
“I’m looking for a young man, between the ages of 20-28 who would like to make some extra money,” the Facebook post read. “Two days a month for two hours, I’ll pay you to be my son’s friend. All you have to do is sit with him and play video games in his room. Nothing else.”
She clarified that the person would never be alone with her son and that Christian would not be privy to the fact that it was a paid position.
She also added a post-script: “PS: Getting paid is not optional. The reason I’m paying is to guarantee you show up. He’s had many people tell him “Someday I’ll visit” and they never do.”
This is heartbreaking.
Thankfully, it didn’t take long for netizens to heed her call. The post took off, going viral with over 60K likes and nearly the same amount of shares.
Herter couldn’t believe it. “I panicked and almost took it down,” she told Today. But then she started reading the comments…all 26K of them.
People Around the World Band Together For a Mom & Her Son With Down Syndrome
While social media can often be the cesspool of humanity, turns out it can be a pretty cool place too.
Because the response Herter received? Was overwhelmingly positive.
She was blown away by the kindness and generosity of the people who reached out to her. Thousands of people offered to join Christian in online gaming, others asked if they could be phone or pen pals, and someone even offered a free superhero visit.
But it wasn’t just offers of friendship that Herter received. Other parents of special-needs children stepped forward, sharing their own stories.
One person wrote: “I feel the same way about my own son who is also 24! It’s so hard to find someone who would simply hang out with him. He needs friends to keep him connected to the community.”
“I wish you were closer as my high functioning autistic 18-year-old lacks friends and he feels lonely, alot…,” wrote another.
For the first time, Herter no longer felt alone in her struggles as a parent of a child with special needs.
The best part of all though, is that her ad worked. And not just for Christian.
How One Facebook Post Sparked An Entire Movement
Herter’s post was the catalyst for a remarkable chain reaction. Christian wasn’t the only one to receive countless offers of friendship. The other parents of special needs kids who commented were getting connected with their own friends: exchanging gamer tags and setting up play dates.
As for Christian, it worked so well that Herter had to buy a social planner for her son to keep up with all his “dates.” So far, he’s booked up for the next several months.
According to Herter, Christian and his friends hang out in his bedroom, watching movies or playing video games. He’s also gone swimming and bowling. And even though every “match” has come from the help wanted ad, not one of them has accepted payment.
This is beyond heartwarming.
Christian is thrilled with all of his new friends.
“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.”
The Community Rallies in Support
The amazing outpouring of love wasn’t confined to social media. The family’s St.Charles, MO community also stepped up.
A group of local police officers showed up to hang out with Christian, bearing pizza and cookies, donated from a restaurant and bakery.
Additionally, Billy Mayhall, the founder of the nonprofit STL Youth Sports Outreach, teamed up with a group of donors to buy Christian a new 65-inch flatscreen television for his video games. They also gifted him some St. Louis Blues tickets.
“That was a really heartbreaking post, it really was,” Mayhall told KMOV. “People now are starting to see a lot of these kids with special needs need somebody in life, just like we do, no different.”
Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione also appointed Christian “Mayor for the Day.” He was sworn in and awarded a certificate, rode on a fire truck, visited the police station, and attended a board meeting complete with a gavel to bang.
“We want him to know he is loved in the community,” Guccione said.
And isn’t love what we all want? People may all be different, but at the heart, we are all the same: we have an innate need to be valued and loved.
It took a lot of courage for Herter to post a “help wanted” ad offering payment for friendship. It could have easily gone south. But instead, it turned into a beautiful example of humanity and the power of community.
By putting herself out there and asking for help, Herter found the support she needed to give her son a chance at making meaningful connections. And it had the unexpected consequence of sparking an inspiring movement of friendship for countless others.
It just goes to show, one act truly can make a remarkable difference.