MINERAL SPRINGS, NC – Ivy Van Vorce turned five this year on May 7, in the middle of the COVID-19 lock down. Ivy had been looking forward to a Make-A-Wish trip in April to celebrate her birthday, but when the pandemic hit, everything was canceled and closed. Phylicia Van Vorce, Ivy’s mom, explained to her that the trip was being postponed and they would not be able to hang out with her friends and family either. While Phylicia was talking to her own mom that night, her mom told her that she would mail Ivy a birthday card and that is when inspiration took flight.
Phylicia explained, “We’ve been planning Ivy’s Make-A-Wish trip for a couple of years now, she was signed up by her cardiologists’ assistant right after her second birthday. A month after her 3rd birthday, she had a CT scan (after a questionable ECHO), which clarified that she needed another surgery which we did September 17, 2018, for a valve replacement. After her surgery and multiple follow up appointments, we started planning her trip to Disney again last year and we were scheduled to arrive at Give Kids The World on April 6, 2020, and return home April 11th. On March 19th, we were informed that her trip had to be postponed to a later date which is still undetermined as of today.”
Phylicia shared her heartbreak while talking to Ivy about her birthday. “Ivy and I kept talking and she asked if her Mee-Maw (my mom) would be here for her birthday or if anyone of her Aunt’s and Uncles could come to celebrate. I cried as I told her that we weren’t going to be able to do that because of the virus outbreak and her heart condition. Ivy started crying hard and kept telling me, “Mommy, no one will come to my birthday? They won’t even be able to tell me Happy Birthday.”
“I had to walk away for a few minutes, as I was crying at that point, I told her I’d be right back and I stepped outside to call my Mom as I tried to come up with a plan. My mom said she’d send Ivy a Birthday card to tell her Happy Birthday and after I had calmed down some, I went back inside to tell Ivy she’d be getting a Birthday Card from her Mee-Maw in the mail. Ivy asked if it would be her personal card and I told her that it would, and she smiled. Ivy loves getting cards of any kind and she asked if anyone else would be sending her one since no one could come to see her on her birthday. I asked her how many cards she wanted for her birthday and she said a lot, like 20. … After calling my mother again later in the night, she suggested that I share her picture and a little bit on Facebook to see if anyone else wanted to send Ivy a birthday card. That’s exactly what I did the very next day and I was very blown away at how many shares her picture had the next morning.” continued Phylicia.
“On Saturday morning I checked my Facebook before going to work and her picture was shared on Facebook over 400 times at around 7 am. I picked up her very first birthday card that day in the Lawson neighborhood in Waxhaw (I’m a rural carrier assistant for the post office). The following Monday, I went home with around 30 cards and by Tuesday she already had over 80 birthday cards from people all over North and South Carolina. Every day there were at least twice as many as the previous day. Then she started getting packages, lots of them. In one week, she had over 750 birthday cards. We opened them daily, I would read them to her and we’d put them up on the wall after she made sure to tell me I need to tell them ‘Thank You’ for her.”
But the card senders weren’t the only ones moved by Ivy’s desire to have an amazing birthday. Adrienne Bucklin, Manager, and Baker at White Rabbit Cafe in Mineral Springs, also wanted to pitch in and offered to collect cards at the Café for Ivy as well as host a drive-by parade. Bucklin explained “I saw the post for Ivy in ‘What’s up Waxhaw’ [on FaceBook]. It touched me at several levels, I have dealt with kids with health issues and my brother died at 36 from a massive heart attack from an undetected congenital heart defect. His birthday was the day before Ivy’s. When I said yes to helping my friend run this coffee, tea, and treats shop, my one stipulation was that it would have to be about making the community better so offering to collect cards just seemed like a great fit. We collected so many more than I expected. Her mom had to come twice to empty the box and pick up gifts that were brought as well. The parade was small but the people who came (including those that dropped off gifts) were fantastic and Ivy was so thrilled just to be out of the house and sitting on a picnic bench with family at the White Rabbit. It was her best birthday ever.”