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Teen with Autism Gets 20,000 Birthday Cards after Heartbreaking Photo Goes Viral

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BANGOR, Maine — A young Maine woman with autism may have had an awful birthday party last year, but thanks to a heartbreaking photo and a Facebook post from a caring cousin, she’ll be feeling the love this year.

More than 20,000 people sent birthday cards or gifts to 18-year-old Hallee Sorenson after seeing a photo her cousin, Rebecca Prefontaine, posted on Facebook. The image, captioned, “EVERYONE PLEASE READ: I NEED A FAVOR,” has been shared more than 237,000 times in the last week.

It shows Hallee at her birthday party last year as the Bangor resident, wearing her birthday hat, cried while eating cake alone at a local bowling alley. “Hallee sat at her party anxiously waiting for her friends to arrive so they could have fun … but Hallee’s friends would never arrive,” Prefontaine wrote. “My cousin is a beautiful young woman who will always have the mind of a child … so you can imagine, she was heartbroken and beyond sad.”

The touching post inspired people from as far away as the Netherlands and Vietnam to do something to make Hallee’s 19th birthday one to remember.

Hallee’s mother, Alyson Seel-Sorenson, told the Bangor Daily News that Prefontaine has even called her to apologize for the massive, daily deliveries. “(Rebecca’s) heart was absolutely in the right place,” Seel-Sorenson said. “(She) has called me a dozen times and said, ‘I’m so sorry. Do you still love me?’ Which I think is just hysterical.'”

The outpouring of love for her daughter hasn’t just come from abroad:

“People have offered her parties. Geaghan’s Pub [in Bangor] said they’d host a party for her,” Seel-Sorenson told the paper. “The bowling alley from last year said they’d have a party. Everyone has been so sweet and generous. But we’re going to keep it low key.”

After all, a mountain of birthday wishes are awaiting Hallee at home this year.