Bob Cornelius snapped a photo of a card his son Christopher made at a back-to-school night recently, without thinking that it would change his son’s life.
When Cornelius got home and took a closer look at the picture – of a worksheet his son completed filling out personal information like “favorite food” and “favorite TV show” – he saw that next to the “some of my friends” prompt, Christopher, 11, had written “no one.”
Bob, who wrote that Christopher is on the autism spectrum, penned a heartrending Facebook post that reads, in part, “His classmates are delayed as well, but most not as much as Christopher. They are figuring out how to interact socially every day, and because Christopher cannot engage them in a typical way, he gets left behind … excluded, in his eyes.
“Until Thursday, I didn’t know how aware he was of this divide, as he does not often talk about his peers. I should not have been surprised as he makes his wants (but not his emotional needs) very clear … but I was. Mostly, I suppose, because I had never seen him put it down on paper. But for the first time, it was staring at me in the face.”
Bob’s letter quickly went viral, and his various inboxes were soon overflowing with people offering to send Christopher letters, gifts and other proofs of friendship.
Among the many people touched by the story: Missouri’s Grain Valley North Middle School student Jordan Davis, who heard about Christopher when the story was picked up on Dana & Parks, a show on KMBZ.
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“I’ve kind of been in that situation and it hit me,” Jordan told KCTV. “He’s in our grade.”
Jordan asked her mother if she could write Christopher a note, but the pair soon decided to spread the effort to the rest of her grade. Eventually, they sent a packet of 110 letters to Christopher, 1,100 miles away in Rockaway, New Jersey.
If you’re interested in reaching out to Christopher, his father provided his address at the bottom of the Facebook post:
96 Valley View Drive
Rockaway, NJ 07866