Families with a child on the autism spectrum frequently see their child experience isolation and marginalizing behavior by others. This was true of Lindsay Larson and her nine-year-old son, Christian, who live in Idaho. It thus came as no surprise to Lindsay that when she sent out birthday invites for Christian’s ninth birthday party, only one of Christian’s classmate’s RSVP’d.

When Lindsay posted on Facebook about the lack of responses, a friend contacted Dan Holtry, the football coach for nearby Nampa High School in Nampa, Idaho. Exercising Gray Area Thinking® to the Nth degree, Coach Holtry asked team members if they’d be willing to attend Christian’s birthday party; all of the team members agreed. As Coach Holtry told CNN, “(w)ithin seconds of a sent text, they were 100 percent in. No hesitation whatsoever.”

On the day of the party, Holtry and his team members arrived at Christian’s house chanting his name. Lindsay said, “The energy became electric and it was amazing to see how they all came together…Christian often plays alone or wanders off, but with the players there helping organize games, he became part of the action.” Later, Christian would tell Lyndsay that it was “the best birthday ever.”

I highlight this story—simple in concept yet high level because of the imagination and motivation it took for all involved—because often, it’s just the simplest thing (like attending a birthday party) that can make all the difference to someone. Remember, human inclusivity is about helping someone, especially a human considered “Other”, feel as if they matter.

No doubt, Christian felt that he mattered that day!

My hat is off to Coach Holtry and his team for the compassion they showed a young boy and his family. You have inspired me to do better! See this video to be inspired too!