There are two things in life Brian Castillo really loves.
Hanging out with his friends and professional wrestling.
So on April 25, it was only fitting he should have both by his side as he celebrated his 13th birthday.
With his best friend, Dominick Girardi, on one side and a cutout of wrestling superstar John Cena in his hand, Brian sat in his wheelchair surrounded by immediate family as a parade of more than 50 cars and trucks rolled past his driveway, decked out with balloons, homemade signs and streamers, marking his entrée into the teenage years in style.
The event was organized by Dominick’s mother, Holly Girardi, who said the boys have been best friends since the age of 5. They recently celebrated Dominick’s 13th birthday together, and she said couldn’t let the day pass without a celebration for Brian – even if it was from afar.
“We just wanted to make his birthday special,” Girardi said. “Brian spent the day with Dominick at the Animal Kingdom, so I wanted to make sure he had the best birthday too.”
She created a Facebook event, and friends and strangers showed up to celebrate Brian’s birthday, including some very special guests from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, Police Athletic League and Flagler County Fire Department.
“I put in on the school website and reached out to another parent, and everything just kind of came together to make it amazing, and he deserves it,” said Girardi.
Overwhelmed with gratitude, Brian soaked up every moment of excitement as his mom, Dawn Martinez, watched in awe at the community’s response for her son.
“He was wrecked because of the whole coronavirus, he couldn’t have anybody over, he couldn’t do anything,” said Martinez. “I can’t believe how many people showed up. I love this place. There’s no place in the world he’d rather be. Thirteen’s a big deal and I’m glad he has such a great support system. This community is amazing.”
Bubbling with excitement, Brian’s ear-splitting grin had others smiling as well.
“It was overwhelming, I couldn’t even hear myself think,” said the enthusiastic teen. “There were a lot of people driving by with bubbles, presents, everything. It was just wow! I couldn’t think a quarantine birthday could be this good or this amazing. I’m thankful for this whole drive-by, I got so many presents and it rocks!”