Kelsey Dueker, who celebrated her 25th birthday Tuesday, received an outpouring of love when she went to the mailbox, where she found 105 cards waiting for her.
Kelsey, who has Down Syndrome, stays with family friend Whitney Hamilton every day while her mother works. Hamilton and her family relocated to Owensboro five years ago for her husband’s job and met Kelsey’s sister at church. The family was in need of someone to watch Kelsey during the day, an opportunity Hamilton quickly accepted.
“Kelsey loves bigger than life,” Hamilton said. “Whether she sees a stranger or a friend she has had forever, Kelsey just loves people.”
Hamilton and her husband have four children and having Kelsey be a part of their daily life is something she has never regretted.
“Kelsey’s presence has developed character for my kids of how to love someone genuinely,” Hamilton said.
So when it came time to celebrate Kelsey’s birthday this year, Hamilton wanted to do something special. She posted a request on Facebook, asking everyone to send Kelsey a birthday card. Her goal was 25 cards for Kelsey’s 25th birthday. The response from friends, family and even strangers overwhelmed Hamilton.
The total cards Hamilton received for Kelsey as of Wednesday was 120. She received gifts, gift cards and so many kind notes from people describing how kind Kelsey had been to them. Cards came from across the U.S., from as far away as California and Texas. Hamilton said one was from an elementary school friend that said she remembered how comfortable Kelsey made her feel at the cafeteria table when she didn’t feel she could sit with anyone else.
Each card has brought a smile to Kelsey’s face, allowing her to feel kindness from strangers or hear from long-lost friends.
“Giving that back to her and allowing her to reconnect is the greatest gift I could give her,” Hamilton said.