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Mother’s post sparks huge surprise for son’s birthday

A mother’s Facebook post designed to gather a few surprises for her son’s 9th birthday turned into something much bigger than she could’ve imagined.

Devin Neal made a Facebook post on September 10, 2022, asking for local fire departments to chip in for a birthday surprise for her son, Joshua Neal by sending him t-shirts or patches from their respective departments. Joshua’s birthday is Nov. 1.

Devin’s reason for the post is because Joshua has had a fascination with being a firefighter since he was a toddler.

“He was diagnosed with Autism after the age of 2,” she said. “We noticed he liked the fire truck toys. He started watching fire trucks respond on YouTube. He wanted fire truck everything. He didn’t want to watch cartoons.”

Devin said once Joshua went on a field trip to a local fire station in Pre-K, his interest grew even more.

“He was nonverbal basically until the age of four,” she said. “He would just point besides saying words like mom or dad. One day he came out and said fire truck. That’s when we knew he’d stay stuck on it for a while.”

Devin said the post gained more traction than she anticipated. As of Sept. 15, the post had over 2,000 shares. Based on feedback, Joshua could expect up to 124 packages from not only departments in Louisiana but other states as well.

“He’s received shirts from four different states,” Devin said. “It completely melts my heart that other people are taking time out of their day to help Joshua. He’s getting mail from people he looks up to the most. It melts my heart to know his dream is coming true in a sense.”

Additional fire departments interested in sending Joshua anything for his birthday can reach out to Devin Kocke Neal on Facebook or mail the package with Joshua Neal’s name on it to the Comfort Suites, 2821 W Cabelas Parkway, Gonzales, La 70737.

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