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Grand Rapids neighborhood shows wave of support for young man's birthday

Grand Rapids neighborhood shows wave of support for young man's birthday
Posted at 9:50 PM, Jul 30, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Surrounded by festive balloons and thoughtful notes, Brendan Beeler is taking it all in.

“It made my day a lot better than it would’ve been,” said Beeler.

The shy smile on his face expresses the gratitude that he says is hard to put words to.

“What everyone has done, [I’m] just overwhelmed,” said Beeler. “I am very thankful.”

The 19-year-old young man knows, though, it’s a birthday to remember.

“Today’s definitely shown that there are good in people,” said Beeler.

Early Friday morning Beeler’s mom, Jennifer Kopenski, posted to the Creston neighborhood’s Facebook page and asked for a simple gesture in which she asked people to tie a balloon to their house’s railing.

“Let him know, ‘Hey, it’s your birthday, we appreciate you, we think of you, you’re loved and it’s your day. Enjoy it,’” said Kopenski.

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Kopenski says Beeler’s special day tends to be lonely. She explains previous bullying incidents and his Asperger’s diagnosis make forming friendships difficult.

However, their perceptions changed within a matter of hours. Dozens of people commented offering to help celebrate or wishin well. The family estimates at least 20 people dropped in by early evening.

“We’ve not only gotten balloons, we’ve had friendships that are in the making; we’ve had people dropping off gift cards, cards, snacks, beverages, just all sorts of things,” said Kopenski.

Kopenski says she’s happy for people to finally see her son as she does: a loving boy with unlimited potential.

“His growth alone from kid to teen to adulthood has been so rewarding,” said Kopenski. “He’s so motivated and he doesn’t let anything hold him back.”

Beeler says he’s just happy to be surrounded by love.

“Just the gift of everyone being so kind to me is really what I appreciate the most,” said Beeler.

Beeler just finished a computer support technician program through Grand Rapids Community College. He is looking for an internship. If anyone knows of any opportunities, click here to get in touch with the family.

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