For Airdronian Carson Horlacher, Christmas did indeed come in June, as he celebrated his birthday with an epic birthday bash over the weekend. But Horlacher's birthday wasn't just about balloons, blowing out candles, and fun hats.

The event which saw over 250 kids and a total of 440 people, raised over $14,000 not counting donations made directly to the Autism Calgary Association.

For Airdronian Carson Horlacher, Christmas did indeed come in June, as he celebrated his birthday with an epic birthday bash over the weekend. But Horlacher's birthday wasn't just about balloons, blowing out candles, and fun hats - the event which saw over 250 kids and a total of 440 people, raised over $1,400, not counting donations made directly to the Autism Calgary Association.For Airdronian Carson Horlacher, Christmas did indeed come in June, as he celebrated his birthday with an epic birthday bash over the weekend. But Horlacher's birthday wasn't your typical birthday party with all the obvious goodies and festivities that come with birthdays. (Photo provided by Dustin Horlacher)

The event, Big Carson's Third Annual Birthday Bash, hosted at the Big Fun Inflatable Park, saw scores of kids being celebrated right along Carson. 

"The atmosphere was fantastic. My son had a blast, all the other kids had a blast. I know a lot of the families appreciated what we did," Dustin Horlacher, Carson's father, said. "I heard from a few people that if it wasn't for what we were doing, they'd never be able to come out and do something like that. That just made it worthwhile."

Horlacher said that while the birthday bash saw Carson and other kids gleeful and all smiles, the origin of the event was one of heartbreak for Carson and his father; heartbreak this his father intended to turn into something positive. Several years ago, Carson had taken time and energy into making birthday invitations for his peers and classmates.

"Carson, as he was getting older, he started struggling to make friends. He spent a lot of time writing his invitations, and he handed them out before the end of the school year [because his birthday is in the summer]," Horlacher explained. "We put a date for an RSVP and the date came up, and nobody responded or replied. Carson sees things very black and white. I was just really angry, and dreading the conversation and I felt really bad as a parent."

Horlacher used social media and wrote about his and his son's experience and from there, an outpouring of community support ballooned into the event that is getting bigger every year. 

Not to be outdone, Carson's brother Kyptin also had quite the time at his brother's big birthday bash. (Photo provided by Dustin Horlacher)Not to be outdone, Carson's brother Kyptin also had quite the time at his brother's big birthday bash. (Photo provided by Dustin Horlacher)

"The amount of feedback I got, I realized that it's not an isolated problem; whether it's kids that have their birthday on long weekends, or in the middle of summer; it's hard to get people to come out," he added. "And when you have [Autism Spectrum Disorder] ASD or ADHD [Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder], sometimes you struggle to connect and make friends at school."

And so, the idea to organize an event for Carson and all other kids was born.

"We decided to try and make sure that no other parent, no other kid has to go through this. And that's how the birthday bash was born. It was to make sure that at least once a year, we can have a day where everybody can come out and celebrate," he said. "It's inclusive... and [the kids] have that chance to make friends and feel like [they're] a part of something."

But what about the birthday boy's favourite part of his big birthday bash?

"He loved the big balloon thing at the back; he was just over the moon playing on meeting Spider-Man and the magician. He loved that and the princess," his father said. "Just running around and having people come up and say happy birthday and wanting to meet him... Words can't describe what that does for a person like him. If it wasn't for this event, he wouldn't have a birthday with peers. I love seeing it make him happy, and the other kids happy [too]."

There are already plans for next year's birthday bash to be even bigger and better than this year.

"Anything to make this bigger, better, more inclusive [and], get more people out," Horlacher said. 

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