They say living well is the best revenge. And one young man from Leeds, England is kicking off his 9th year by rising far, far above the haters!
It all started on Thursday, when a man named Christopher Hope-Smith of Leeds, England tweeted an unusual request: for celebrities to wish his son Ollie, who had recently been bullied at school, a happy birthday.
“Anyone know anyone famous/well known who could send Ollie a positive/9th birthday message,” Hope-Smith wrote on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @Hopenlesmyth. “The bully keeps saying to him that everything O has, he has bigger/better/more often. O excited for his birthday but keeps being told it won’t be as good as his own.”
Hope-Smith added, “I would be so grateful and I appreciate it is an odd request. Just would love someone to tell him he does mean something & bullying is not (sic).”
The internet did what it does best: faved, retweeted, and sent the darn tweet viral. And it just so happened to cross the paths of several celebrities who were more than happy to wish Ollie a happy birthday.
There was actor Russell Crowe, who kept it simple with a friendly birthday greeting.
TODAY’s own Dylan Dreyer had to get in on the action, posing to hold up a birthday sign (orange, of course!) with Craig Melvin and Sheinelle Jones.
Eric Keyes, illustrator for “The Simpsons,” drew Ollie a custom cartoon.
Anti-bullying advocate Monica Lewinsky offered her support, telling Ollie to “hang in there.”
The England football team offered him free tickets.
Astronaut Tim Peake and rapper Stormzy helped put the bullies in perspective.
And many others chimed in to share the love.
Hope-Smith and his wife later responded on the same thread to say thank you, promising to share the messages with Ollie on his actual birthday, July 5.
“I am completely overwhelmed by everyones kind thoughts,” wrote Ollie’s mom, Natalie. “You do not know what this means to me and will to Ollie when we show him. I have been battling with this matter for over a year and am only just now being listened to. It is heartbreaking listening to an 8 year old think that he is worthless and ‘shouldn’t be here’.”
She continued, “I know that we are definately not the only ones in the world to be going through this but I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart ‘Thank You’ so much. You really don’t know what this means.”
Happy birthday, Ollie, from all of us here at TODAY!