When Mackenzie turned 10, Shakopee turned out

Photo: Keighla’s Fresh Face Photography

In Shakopee last weekend, Mackenzie Moretter turned 10, and it looked as though nobody invited to her party would show up. Nobody that was invited RSVP’d, so her mother, Jenny Moretter, posted a message on Facebook sites for the Shakopee community.

“My daughter has Sotos Syndrome which means she has development delays such as speech and learning. She is incredibly loving and wants more than anything to have friends. At school she struggles and is often alone on the playground.

“As a mother, it is heartbreaking, you want your children to be happy. I’m reaching out to moms who have daughters between the ages of 9-11 that would love to come to a birthday party tomorrow from 11-1:30. You don’t have to bring gifts or stay long, just stop by and wish her a happy birthday.

“As of now I have two girls coming (family). She would be so surprised to have other girls just show up. If you are interested please send me a (private message) and I’ll give you my address. Thank you all for reading a mother’s wish!”

Within a few hours, the plans for the party had taken off.

PR pro Kate-Madonna Hindes stepped in to take some of the pressure off Moretter, she writes on her blog, Girl Meets Geek.

I messaged Mackenzie’s mom, Jenny, without ever expecting to hear back. I offered to bring cupcakes and help clean-up after her party. Soon, Jenny said she was overwhelmed with messages. With a weekend ahead of me, I knew exactly how I was going to spend my time. But first, we needed to figure out how to fit 100+ people in Jenny’s back yard. I was on the phone with the City, then Sargent Angela from Shakopee PD. Then, messaging with the Mayor. Suddenly, we had donated space at a park. and discounted tables, chairs and tents from Shakopee Rental. More so, we had the opportunity to somehow- in 11 hours, pull together a birthday party that originally had about 10 invites, that grew to 100, then 300, then 500.

Enter Paul, Darren and Nicole: Friends from a past life in H.R. and recruiting. In an instant, we had plans. Paul handled his magic: spreading the word and thinking of imaginative ways we could celebrate Mackenzie’s day. Darren started a GoFundMe that just an hour ago, reached $3,0o0. Nicole- an incredible marketing guru and project manager, created lists and helped with people management. I took over organization and P.R. Hearing Jenny’s worry and wanting to protect her family, I wanted to be sure Mackenzie would be safe during the festivities, and we could have press on-site to capture her special day. Most importantly, we wanted this to start a movement: No child should ever feel alone, or worried that their birthday wouldn’t be special.

We had donated food, (thanks to Mr. Pig’s BBQ,) and buns, (thanks to Sam’s Club in Shakopee.) We even had a D.J., from Silver Sound Entertainment and over 300+ donated cupcakes and beverages from individuals and organizations, (like Mystic Lake Casino) that helped everyone enjoy the celebration. Not to mention MN Vikings players, Snoopy and Elsa, herself. Additionally, I’ll shout out Canva, who without their incredible platform, I couldn’t have made a quick Facebook header and signage. (I’m no graphic designer. Bless that tool!)

“In Minnesota, we have an important opportunity as a state and as a community to stop bullying and be inclusive to ALL children,” she wrote. “On Saturday, a movement begun. Will you help spread a message of love, tolerance and kindness, too?”

It wasn’t all a sweet story. Jenny Moretter posted a note on her Facebook page, asking that people stop online bullying of the kids that didn’t show up.

She got online blowback, too.

OK… I need to speak my mind! I’m reading several comments in which people are saying that I used FB to validate my daughter’s worth and people only came to her party out of self pity. You are DEAD wrong. Trust me when I say, I know my daughter’s worth and how incredibly beautiful she is inside and out. I did not ask for all the media attention I have received nor did my family. All I wanted is what every other mom out there wants for their daughter, is for Mackenzie to have a “big girl party” being she has never had one. I have NEVER once stated that children are mean to her, I only stated that children have a hard time relating to her and she is often alone with no friends. Why is that wrong for me to say? I’m a mom and my heart breaks when my children are sad and they cry. I put a post on FB asking for moms that would like to bring their daughters to stop by…. NOT for presents, money or anything else. Just to wish Mackenzie a “Happy Birthday”. I never in a million years thought that my daughter would touch so many hearts across the world. For some people to sit back now and say such terrible things is awful. You do not know us and have no clue what I was thinking nor feeling when I wrote the post. Bottom line, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Lastly, I do NOT think for one minute that people came to see my daughter out of self pity. They came to celebrate something beautiful. *** Look at the picture, that is a mother’s LOVE for her child, not a media event! ENOUGH SAID.

“We teach our children about bullying in school and to say kind’s words to others and to stand up for other children who are being affected,” she wrote. “However, I think we need to take it one step further. What about the children who are not being bullied? The children who are alone on the playground or the children who sit by themselves at lunch and no one say’s a word to them.”

(h/t: Brad Tabke)