Salem mom asks for community's help to make son's birthday memorable

SALEM, Va. (WDBJ7) A mom who has a child with special needs is asking for everyone's help to make her son's birthday party memorable, and she wants to teach everyone an important lesson in the process.

If the bike and ATV in the yard don't give it away -- boys live at the Manus house.

Gabe just turned seven. He loves his Hot Wheels and people, which is why he was looking forward to his birthday last year. That is a day his mom can't forget.

Stephanie Manus, Mother, said, “So it came to party day and we had a racecar party and everything planned, and no one showed up.”

She says her son Gabe has been bullied and can be the odd kid out. Gabe is also on the autism spectrum, but she doesn't want that to stop him from having a real birthday.

“To us it was like not again -- not again -- and not at 7,” she said.

That's why she's turning to everyone for help. She's hosting a birthday for him at Bethel Baptist, complete with carnival games and police officers.

“Come say hello to somebody you wouldn't ordinarily say hello to,” Manus said.

She'd like parents of typical kids, as well as kids with special needs to show up because she says everyone can learn a lesson in acceptance.

Manus said, “And he's different but he is fully capable of playing with the other kids.”

Stephanie says this lesson is one everyone can learn from.

“The whole point is to teach our kids compassion, teach our kids understanding and teach our kids acceptance,” she said. “Because it starts at this age.”

If you'd like to come this Saturday at Bethel Baptist from 1-4pm, they're asking you to RSVP on their Facebook Page, or visit