‘Tidal wave’ of love washes over local bullied teen on birthday – mySA

Fourteen year old Demauriae Bennett has a range of interests — staying up late watching Stranger Things, playing sports, gaming, and exploring the wonders of space — but he had no one to share them with. That was before his mom called on San Antonio

“He doesn’t have a lot of friends. People have a tendency to look at his size and bully him,” she adds. “He won’t do anything, he’s just like a big bear.” 

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Courtesy, Roslyn Bates

Bates beams while rattling off the list of things Demauriae spends his time doing. He’s a standout Special Olympics athlete, a force in the 50-meter race and turbo javelin throw. Monthly trips to the Space Center in Houston with his mom fuel his dreams of becoming an aerospace physician. 

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Courtesy, Roslyn Bates

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Courtesy, Roslyn Bates

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Courtesy, Roslyn Bates

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Courtesy, Roslyn Bates

Her tone is subdued as she explains her vulnerability in posting the plans for her son’s birthday party on “Street News SA,” a Facebook community with 90,000 members. Like every summer, Bates had everything planned for Demauriae, but she couldn’t guarantee that he would be surrounded by friends to celebrate.

The popular Facebook community page was launched at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as a source for grocery supply updates. It’s since morphed into an online space where members share information on community events and causes. Bates, familiar with the engagement posts usually get on the page, decided to extend the invite to the Facebook group.

She typed out a simple ask in a post to the page.

“I need help with five children to attend his party. It does not matter what age.”

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Courtesy, Roslyn Bates

 Bates tells MySA she was “grabbing for straws” when she decided to open the invitation. 

“I was so discouraged,” she says of the initial party planning. “I was like. ‘This is the saddest birthday I’ve ever had for my son.'”

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Demauriae Bennett, 14, is celebrating his birthday with a wealth of new San Antonio friends.

Courtesy, Roslyn Bates

True to San Antonio’s heart, the city responded in droves to help the teen celebrate another trip around the sun. Bates says “plenty” of families with children reached out saying they’re planning on attending. The celebration even got a sponsor.

A man named Arturo Alderete offered to pay for the party at Main Event on Highway 151 on July 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. San Antonio sweets-makers like Wild Child Bake Shop and Bri’s Sweets Shop are supplying the cake and cupcakes. Christopher Hernandez, a barber at Manos de Oro, gave Demauriae a free haircut ahead of his big day. Car clubs Show Stoppaz and Notorious Swangaz are organizing a parade and escort to the party, which will be now be well-attended by Demauriae’s new friends. 

Demauriae Bennett with barber Christopher Hernandez, who donated his services to cut the teen's hair before his birthday. 

Demauriae Bennett with barber Christopher Hernandez, who donated his services to cut the teen’s hair before his birthday. 

Courtesy, Roslyn Bates

Bates says everyone from 4-month-old infants to 16 year olds are making plans to celebrate the teen. While the guest list is filling up, she says the “more the merrier” and says new friends are welcome to join.  

Bates says the public has asked how they can send gifts to Demauriae. An Amazon wishlist has been created and a few of the items have been purchased for him. 

“Now it feels like we’re standing on a beach and 100-foot tidal wave just came and splashed us,” she says. “I have no words. This is going to give him a lot of confidence and he gets to have new friends. We love San Antonio, there’s no better city than this city.” 

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