WATCH: Community Rallies to Give Boy Who Lost Mom Surprise Birthday Parade

Neighbors in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, made sure a little boy felt especially loved on his birthday this year.

When seven-year-old James Whalen lost his mother, Abbey, in a car crash last week, he and his family were devastated, according to

“As a mother of six kids, I couldn’t even imagine having two young children going through this,” said neighbor Nichole Mumbauer.

Before James’s mom passed away, she planned to surprise her son with a parade of first responder vehicles to celebrate his birthday, which fell on Mother’s Day.

Although they were grieving her loss, the family decided not to cancel the event. When the community heard the news, they wanted to be part of James’s special day.

“When Abbey wanted to do something, she put her heart and soul into it, and we just wanted to try and honor her and pick up where she left off, and hopefully, we did her proud and the family proud today,” said friend Tom Bonner.

Sunday, more than 100 first responder vehicles and other drivers in cars decorated with balloons and streamers came together to show James how much they loved him.

“Somebody at the very top, the beginning of the parade route said, ‘wow did you expect this many people to show’ and the way I replied was, ‘I did because people show up for good people and that’s what the Whalen’s are,'” Bonner recalled.

In addition to the parade, several participants stopped and gave James birthday gifts and their prayers.

“We’re always here for him. We’re always here for his family, and we’re always here for anybody that has a tragedy,” commented Deer Lake & West Brunswick Township Fire Department Chief Michael Strause.

Friend Jess Polak said she believed Abbey would be happy to know how much their neighbors cared about James.

“It’s nice to honor her this way, knowing that we put her son first today because that’s what she would want,” Polak concluded.


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