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To the Macy’s Staffer Who Gave My Daughter the Best Birthday Ever

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When MaryEllen and Kevin were babies, we were always told that their lives would be short — less than two years — so since then, birthdays in our house are a big deal. We celebrate each and every one fully.

This week, MaryEllen turned 29, and I don’t think we will ever be able to top it.

MaryEllen loves to shop so we spend every birthday doing just that. We have a lovely mall nearby, and we take our time going from store to store and department to department, picking out the softest, most beautiful things.

This year was no different. At first.

It started like every other birthday shopping spree morning. We fussed over MaryEllen’s hair and outfit. Everything had to be just so for our fun outing. The excitement was building as we placed a “Happy Birthday” balloon on the back of her wheelchair. We gathered all the medical equipment — suction, oxygen, pulse oximeter and ventilator for both kids — and we were off.

We sang “Happy Birthday” to MaryEllen in the van on the way. By the time we got to the mall, my giddy girl was ready for some fun.

Our first stop this year? Macy’s! I thought the experience of a large department store would be so much fun. We usually fuss over every item as we place the fabric against MaryEllen’s cheek so she can feel the softness. We take our time and have lots of fun.


As we entered the store through the cosmetics area, we noticed a red carpet leading our way in. Of course, we made a big deal out of that as well.

“MaryEllen! Do you believe they put out the red carpet for us?” I said excitedly.

MaryEllen replied with a grin as big as the sky.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, we were approached by an angel on earth.

“It’s your birthday?” she said. “Well, come over here. I have something for you.”

Her excitement and joy were almost equal to ours. It was a lovely lady from the Lancôme section of the store. We followed her as she led us to her area. As we entered, MaryEllen was surrounded by all the Lancôme ladies.

“It’s her birthday!”

As she leaned the other way to get a little gift, all the other ladies began to fuss over MaryEllen.

“It’s your birthday?”

“Happy birthday!”

“Wow, how old are you?”

It was a birthday commotion.

The lovely lady, Thea, handed MaryEllen a beautiful purple Lancôme cosmetic bag adorned with jewels.

“Happy birthday, MaryEllen!”

I was stunned. We were into our shopping spree less than five minutes.

In our “wheelchair” world, this is a highly unusual occurrence. No one ever approaches us with a smile. And all that joy! This was genuine, from the heart and act of love and kindness.

I thanked Thea immensely as we parted ways.

As I walked away, it came to me. I headed back towards the Lancôme counter and said, “May I take a picture of you with the kids? No one has ever done this for us, and I would love to tell Macy’s how wonderful you all are.”

“Really?” Thea said. She couldn’t believe that this act of kindness was not the norm. “Of course!”


Thea and Tracy, one of the other lovely ladies who gushed over my birthday girl, surrounded MaryEllen and Kevin without a second thought for the perfect photo. Again, another out-of-the-norm occurrence. People are usually so uncomfortable around wheelchairs that they will never get in close.

I thanked them again from the bottom of my heart as we parted ways again to continue our fun day. And it was!

After returning home, I couldn’t wait to tell Macy’s about our magical experience. I quickly wrote a note on their Facebook page. Look how it exploded!

People from all over the world began to comment. Thea and all the girls at the Lancôme department at Macy’s began to receive recognition. As it should be.

And MaryEllen began receiving birthday wishes, too. Thousands and thousands of lovely birthday wishes for my sweet girl.

I am filled with gratitude for this outpouring of love and kindness.

It started with you, Thea. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the catalyst for all of this kindness and love sent our way. This was truly the best (and biggest!) birthday ever for MaryEllen, and I am forever in your debt. You have touched my heart in a big way, sweet lady.

It was a red carpet day like no other!


Follow this journey on The Heartful Mom.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us about a time someone in your community went above and beyond for you or your loved one with special needs. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: December 9, 2015
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