STERLING – Gaby DeLaFuente has a birthday coming up, and her mom, Cindy, has a surprise that she hopes will put her daughter over the moon – birthday cards. Lots of them.
Gaby loves getting mail. She will celebrate her 20th birthday Sunday, and Cindy, 49, is asking the public to send her birthday cards. Even if it’s just a smiley face or a piece of paper with stickers on it, send it.
Her mom put together the idea over the weekend, posted it to Facebook, and the message took off Sunday night.
“We’ve had so many [Facebook] hits, so many likes, so many shares ...” Cindy said excitedly. Gaby smiled in agreement as they sat close together on the living room couch.
Gaby has “no idea” what’s planned, Cindy said. “It’s going to be a big surprise when she gets to pick up her mail at the post office.”
Gaby was diagnosed with infantile spasms when she was 7 months old. The condition caused developmental delays, most notably affecting her speech.
“They told me she wouldn’t have much language, but she gets her point across,” Cindy said. “She has a good vocabulary, and it’s getting better and better.”
Cindy said the neurologist told her that Gaby wouldn’t walk until she was 3. They worked with her, and she was walking at 16 months.
Gaby is a lover, as evidenced by the huge hug, laugh and smile she used to welcome a reporter and photographer Tuesday afternoon.
“It seems like Gaby has no cares in the world,” Cindy said. “She’s always full of smiles. She has love for everybody.”
Cindy said she wishes everyone could be that way.
She wants to repay the gift that Gaby is by showing her how much she means to people.
“I’m so glad that she was placed in my life … that God gave her to me, because she makes me a better person, and seeing life through her eyes,” Cindy said.
On top of asking people to send in birthday cards, Cindy has an open invitation to join her and Gaby for lunch Sunday at Gaby’s favorite restaurant.
Every Sunday after church, Gaby picks either Angelo’s II on Lincolnway or Candlelight Inn in Rock Falls for lunch. This week, it’s the Candlelight, Cindy said.
“The waitresses and staff know her by name.”
Happy birthday, Gaby!
Mail cards to Gaby DeLaFuente, P.O. Box 86, Sterling, IL 61081.
To say happy birthday in person, Gaby will be at Candlelight Inn, 2200 First Ave, in Rock Falls around noon Sunday.