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

Sidney Jon Blair said he would have died if a van and car had collided at the intersection of corner of Resthaven Drive and Brethour Avenue in early December. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney senior urges motorists to slow down on Resthaven Drive

Jon Blair said community must become more pedestrian-friendly

Tarpaulin-covered tents sit next to one of the ponds in Beacon Hill Park. The location of the Meegan community care tent has still not been nailed down, as Victoria council rejected the recommendation offered by city staff. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Location of care tent for Victoria’s Beacon Hill campers still not settled

Council roundly rejects Avalon Road site, road’s edge on Cook Street appears the top alternative

Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, will be available for a Q&A through the Vancouver Island Regional Library Jan. 28. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library)
Q&A on the Indian Act with Bob Joseph open to Greater Victoria residents

Bob Joseph is the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read