Community steps up to give 16-year-old girl a special birthday

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Southwest Florida stepped up to give a 16-year-old girl with autism a very special birthday. WINK News first introduced you to Emilie last week.

Emilie’s mom is asking people to write birthday cards for Emilie in hopes of cheering her up.

The past year has been full of challenges for Emilie and they ended with her room being destroyed in a flood.

A student at FGCU saw the original story about Emilie Orta and felt a tug on her heart. She says she has a sister who is very much like Emilie. So, she decided to go above and beyond to make sure Emilie knows that students on Florida Gulf Coast Univesity’s campus and people across Southwest Florida wish her the happiest of birthdays.

It’s often said that the simplest things in life can make all of the difference. For Shaylin Orta’s daughter, Emilie, those simple things include birthday cards. “It’s really hard for her to make friends. So when she sees cards coming in the mail for her, I think, to her, it’s like ‘I’m loved.’ ‘Somebody cares about me,’ ‘this is for me’ and to her, that’s her friends,” said Shaylin.

Emilie has autism. And, when FGCU student Angelena Rios saw Emilie’s story on WINK News, she felt like she need to do more than just send a card. Angelena’s sister Elena has an intellectual disability as well. “I want to make sure that if anything, I did everything that I could to make sure that she had a good birthday,” Angelena said.  “Make sure that she knew she had people and she had friends whether they knew her or whether they didn’t, people know about her and people are constantly looking out for her.”

So, on Friday, Angelena, along with her sister Elena, set up a card table on campus. They asked students to sign birthday cards for Emilie and write messages to her to show that they care.

“She struggled with making friends. It’s really hard and I also struggle sometimes,” Elena said.

Abigail Hernandez is a junior at FGCU. “I think that words go a long way, actions too but sometimes you don’t know saying little things really means a lot for somebody,” Hernandez said.

Gracie Dougherty is a senior at FGCU. “It takes 2 seconds to sign a card so why not do something to make someone feel really good and loved,” Dougherty said.

Just a small act of kindness that is sure to put a big smile on Emilie Orta’s face.

WINK News Reporter Breana Ross signed a card for Emilie and wrote a note while on FGCU’s campus on Friday. So many WINK News viewers have already sent cards to our station for Emilie.

Emilie’s birthday is Nov. 21, and her mom hopes more WINK News viewers might send her a card, a small note. She’s sure that will put a smile on her face and keep it there. That way she can add cards to her room, maybe put them on the bare walls.

If you’d like to see how to send a card to Emilie, you can do so below.

To send a card, mail to:

Attn: Emilie Orta
2824 Palm Beach Boulevard
Fort Myers, FL 33916.

We’ll collect them, package them up and deliver them to her on her birthday.

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