BILLINGS — It was one week ago when Billings mother Emily Tucker realized no one had responded to her invitations for her son Callien’s fifth birthday party. Callien is autistic, so she reached out to a special needs group on Facebook, hoping a few friendly faces would show up. To her surprise, more than 30 people came to South Park to celebrate Callien.
Callien Tucker loves to run around and play, but he’s a little different than most kids. He’s been diagnosed with autism and ADHD.
“He has a lot of the meltdowns, the tantrums, the not understanding of things, the easily overwhelmed,” said Tucker at South Park
Like any other kid his age, he couldn’t wait for his fifth birthday party last Sunday, but there was one big problem.
“We just didn’t hear from anybody. And then when we weren’t hearing from anybody, there were a couple of people that I reached out to, and they were like, nope, we can’t make it. Nope, we can’t make it,” Tucker said.
Tucker didn’t know what to do, but not having a party was not an option. She posted to three different Billings based Facebook pages, including the Special Needs Billings page.
“They just blew up, my special needs group blew up first and then it went out from there,” said Tucker.
A group of more than 30 people from all over the Billings community showed up to South Park that Sunday to shower Callien with gifts and games, including a couple of Yellowstone Co. Sheriff's deputies.
“They had seen his post, and they came. They came and they brought a little gift bag and everything for Callien,” Tucker said.
Even some firefighters blared their sirens for the five year old of the hour as they drove around South Park.
“A fire truck came, realized Callien wasn’t over here, and they circled around again to make sure Callien saw them. It was unreal,” said Billings resident Hallie Cross.
Cross saw Tucker’s post on Facebook last weekend and showed up to Callien’s party with her two little girls.
“I’ve never seen a full community come together the way they did for Callien and Emily, so it was huge for me,” Cross said.
It was also huge for Crystal Hammermeister and her two kids, Logan and Lillian. The three also came to the party after seeing the post on Facebook.
“Both of my children are special needs. Logan is on the autism spectrum, but Lily is nonverbal,” said Hammermeister.
Seeing the support from the community for Callien affirmed her appreciation for the people of Billings.
“It’s always good to know that no matter what happens, Billings moms can all pull together and come together and say hey, it’s not about this or that. It’s about these kids,” Hammermeister said.
“Never in a million years would I have ever thought that what happened for his birthday happened. It was truly a birthday miracle,” said Tucker.