Brandon Smith has been marking the locations of strangers wishing him happy birthday on a hand-drawn map

By Rachel DeSantis
April 13, 2020 05:11 PM
Brandon Smith
Credit: Jody Smith/Twitter

A young boy with a passion for geography had to spend his birthday social distancing in his home, but that didn’t stop him from making friends across the globe.

Brandon Smith turned 12 on Saturday, and thanks to the help of his dad, was able to celebrate his special day with an exceptionally creative project: using a hand-drawn map to track each and every person that wished him a happy birthday on Twitter.

The project took off after Brandon’s dad, football writer Jody Smith, asked his Twitter followers to retweet or reply letting Brandon know where in the world they were located, so he could mark it with a dot on his map.

The tweet soon went viral, and by Saturday afternoon, “Brandon” was a No. 1 trending topic on Twitter, according to the Washington Post.

The replies came far and wide, from Edinburgh, Scotland and Pyongyang, North Korea, to India, Paris and New Zealand.

Even actor Josh Gad weighed in from Los Angeles, as did celebrity chef José Andrés in Bethesda, Maryland and the San Francisco Giants.

“Brandon is very appreciative of all the love today,” Smith wrote alongside a picture of a proud Brandon holding his map and a sign that read, “Thank you Twitter!”

The Houston-based Smith told the Post that he only expected around 50 to 100 people to reply to his initial tweet, and that most of the responses would be from Americans.

Brandon Smith
Brandon Smith
| Credit: Jody Smith/Twitter

Of course, he got way more than he bargained for — and said Brandon was particularly pleased to hear from someone in Tasmania, a small Australian island.

“He’s having a blast,” Smith said.

He added that his son is on the autism spectrum, and has a tendency to become “almost obsessive” about his passions, which right now are maps and golf.

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Smith said Brandon is so well-versed in geography that he often doesn’t even need to check a map to know where to add a new dot.

“These are pretty trying times and it’s so great to see people rallying around a warm story,” Smith told the Post. “And it’s made him feel so special. Kudos to all the people taking time out of their day to make a 12-year-old boy feel good.”