A schoolboy from the US state of Michigan who told his mother he did not want a birthday party because he had no friends, has signed a one-day contract to play with a professional hockey team.
The chance came after 11-year-old Colin’s mother Jennifer set up a secret Facebook page for him to encourage people across the world to wish him a happy birthday, which quickly went viral.
Colin has a sensory processing disorder similar to Asperger's syndrome, which affects his social skills and has made it difficult for him to maintain friendships at school.
But unbeknown to Colin, 2.1 million people had liked the ‘Happy Birthday Colin’ Facebook page, from which Jennifer had secretly received 78,000 letters. Gifts are still arriving at P.O. boxes his family set up for the cause, according to Michigan Live.
The secret was revealed to Colin two days before his birthday, when the family appeared on the popular US TV programme Good Morning America.
Two weeks after their TV appearance, Colin and his family were shocked when coaches and representatives from the Kalamazoo Wings hockey team surprised the schoolboy at a pizza restaurant and presented the him with a one-day contract.
The deal, the first one-day contract the team has ever offered, will see him join the team for a home game at Wings Stadium on Sunday.
Colin will be given his own jersey, the opportunity to drop the puck before the game, and sit on the bench with the players, a spokesman for the team Mike Mudogno told Michigan Live.
He will also be named one of the stars of the game.
“I was not expecting this,” Colin told the website after arriving at the restaurant. “I knew we were going to the restaurant, but I was not expecting the rest.”
He added that the attention he has received since learning of his birthday surprise has been “a little bit crazy and wild,” adding that he is still opening new letters each day.
“It’s been very heartwarming is what I would say. I just love that so many people did this," Colin told the website.
Jennifer, who only wanted her and her son's first names made public, added: “It's been hard to adjust to suddenly, accidentally being famous. I have a pretty wild imagination, but I couldn't expect this.”
Head Coach Nick Bootland, who was joined by players Elgin Reid, Eric Kattelus and Sam Ftorek, said the team is looking forward to welcoming Colin on the weekend.
“Obviously there are things that are much bigger than the game and if we can put a smile on a young guy's face that deals with a lot of adversity, we're excited about that opportunity,” Bootland said.