Bettering a community, one birthday cake at a time
What's a birthday without a party? Ask Sean and Neil Nathan. After learning that children at the homeless shelter never had a birthday parties, the brothers began raising money and organizing monthly celebrations for their less fortunate peers. WWE, in turn, is celebrating the young Louisiana pair as July's WWE Community Champions. (WATCH: Tommy Dreamer's message)
The first party plan was devised by Sean, now 14, and Neil, now 11, in December of 2006.
"My brother and I were playing Christmas carols at the Providence House," the center for homeless families in their hometown of Shreveport, La., Sean said, "and afterward I was talking to one of the kids about my upcoming birthday. He said he wished he could have a birthday party."
"We couldn't believe he'd never had one," Neil added. "So we went home and talked to our mom about throwing him a party and that's how it all began."
Before long, the small to-do in Shreveport became monthly events dubbed the Providence House Birthday Bash — filled with hours of food, music and games.
To raise money to cover the costs, Sean and Neil perform the violin and cello, respectively, at local dinners and ceremonies.
This month, WWE surprised the boys and girls with birthday gifts from all the WWE Superstars. John Cena, Batista, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton autographed T-shirts and action figures for the children.
So what motivates these brothers to continue making a difference?
"After the first party," Sean explained, "a Mom wrote me a letter saying she cried when she saw her children having so much fun at their first birthday party. That was inspiring."
"It's enjoyable for me," Neil said. "I get a good feeling knowing I'm helping kids out and giving them something special they wouldn't have had."
The brothers received a special gift this year, too. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce named Sean, on behalf of the duo, one of the top 10 youth volunteers in the nation. On May 3, he was presented the Prudential Spirit of Community Award by Former First Lady Laura Bush.
"One of the greatest privileges [of being in Washington] was meeting the thousands of citizens across our country, from all walks of life, who dedicate their talents, time and energy to serving others," Bush said in her speech.
She lauded Sean, and his fellow honorees, as creative innovators and continued.
"Thank you, Sean, for making children feel as special as they should on their birthday," the former First Lady said. "Thanks to all of you who work to make people around you feel appreciated and loved."
We agree! Sean and Neil, you are true Community Champions.
If someone you know is getting involved and making a difference in your community, nominate them as a WWE Community Champion at firstname.lastname@example.org.