William Magee: Six-year-old boy with muscular dystrophy receives 20,000 birthday cards in post

His mum appealed online for people to 'send enough cards to cover his bedroom wall'

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The Independent Online

A little boy who suffers from a muscle wasting disease has been sent more than 20,000 birthday cards from well-wishers on every continent in the world.

The letterbox has been busy at the home of William Magee, a six-year old whose birthday three days ago was made special by an appeal from his mum.

Kelly Magee asked the world in a simple Facebook status for her son to be able to open lots of birthday cards - his favourite activity - on the big day, but never expected such a response.

"I think I’m still in a state of shock," she told the Daily Mirror. "I can’t believe how many people have sent cards to William and how many people care about my little boy."

The plea for people to "send enough cards to cover his bedroom wall" went viral after the campaign was boosted by the Mirror Online, with William stacking up 8,000 cards in just two weeks.

It was also taken up by Bubbles' World of Play, a children's entertainment centre in Wirral, part of the Merseyside area in Liverpool where the family live.

The story tugged the heartstrings of the internet to such an extent that messages arrived from Australia, Canada, America - with one apparently on the way from Antarctica - so that a local play centre stepped in just to help out with space.

Kelly said each birthday was difficult, as the fatal Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy her son was born was brought into sharp relief.

"I usually struggle around his birthday because it's another year gone," she told the BBC. "So this year it's been great to look forward to the excitement of William's birthday."

An inherited genetic condition, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy tends to affect boys in their childhood and causes the muscles to weaken, leading to physical disability. The NHS states that young men suffering from the condition may live until their 20s or 30s.

With the number of cards for William now having surpassed 20,000, it looks like next year's celebrations have got a tough act to follow.