LONDON - AUGUST 07: Christmas cards are displayed with Christmas themed merchandise at Harrods in Knightsbridge for the launch of the store's 'Christmas World' on August 7, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Rosie Greenway/Getty Images) (Photo : Rosie Greenway / Staff)
Louisiana mom Jennifer Hill-Robertson had no way of knowing a Facebook plea asking followers to send her autistic son Christmas cards would receive such a heartfelt response.
Robertson set a goal of 1,000 Christmas cards for her son, Sean, who suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder and faces countless challenges that kids his age couldn't imagine. He's bullied, has hearing loss, and suffers from hyperparathyroidism, which weakens his bones.
The 10-year-old was diagnosed five years ago and began losing his hearing last year. Through it all, Robertson says Sean's kept a smile on his face.
"It is my mission to show Sean how to live in our society as a contributing member of our community and as a citizen," Robertson wrote in a Nov. 24 Facebook post. "I also want to show others that being Autistic doesn't mean they can't live, laugh, and love."
Sean loves getting mail, and Robertson loves that cards help him better communicate. A similar campaign she organized last year brought in 450 Christmas cards, though it's nowhere near the running total this time around.
Within weeks, the modest goal of 1,000 cards reached 3,500. Then 5,000. On Dec. 22, Robertson posted that Sean had received over 5,800 cards from well-wishers around the country, many with touching letters praising his bravery.
"I just think it's wonderful that complete strangers want to do something so sweet and selfless, especially at this time of the year when there's so much sadness," she told TIME. "That's what Christmas is about."
Anyone who wants to send Sean a letter can address them to:
PO Box 359