(NEXSTAR) – Toni Wilson-Taylor lost her son five years ago, but that didn’t stop her from planning a sweet surprise for his May 16 birthday — a surprise that has since touched the hearts of thousands across the country.
Wilson-Taylor, from Plainfield, Indiana, woke up on May 16 with plans to purchase a birthday cake for a stranger in honor of her late son Tyler. So she called up her local Kroger supermarket, arranged to pay for a local woman’s cake, and stopped by the bakery section to leave behind a card explaining her motive.
“I just wanted to do something that would make my son proud and happy,” said Wilson-Taylor. “It was supposed to be anonymous… I was not expecting the person who got my card to post it online.”
But that’s exactly what happened. Carolyn Mick, the woman who eventually picked up the cake, was so moved by the card that she shared a photo of Wilson-Taylor’s note to a local Facebook group.
“Today is my son’s 35th birthday, his 5th one in heaven,” reads the note, as seen in Mick’s post. “In his memory, I’ve paid for your cake. Please enjoy, make special memories and hug your children and loved ones tight.
“My son loved cake,” Wilson-Taylor added.
One of Wilson-Taylor’s friends eventually spotted the post on Facebook, recognized the names from the note, and reached out to connect. After that, news of her sweet gesture “spread like wildfire,” Wilson-Taylor said.
Hundreds of Facebook users, too, were touched by Wilson-Taylor’s message.
“This is beautiful and a wonderful way to honor someone,” wrote one commenter. “Now everyone is cherishing your son today.”
“You are too good, Toni,” wrote another. “Tyler is proud you are his mom.”
Wilson-Taylor, for her part, just says she’s happy to keep her son’s memory alive in one way or another. Most recently, she and her daughter Stephani had even taught themselves to sew masks, which they donated to the hospital where Tyler had completed his medical residency.
And even though she didn’t expect it, Wilson-Taylor is ultimately glad her note about Tyler’s birthday went viral.
“I’m thankful. For all the gratitude. For all the strangers who were celebrating my son’s birthday that day. It just made my family feel much better.”