When parents arrange birthday parties for their kids, their main fear is that no one will show up to celebrate. That eventuality can have a serious long-term effect on a toddler, leaving them feeling unloved and unwanted.
When Sil Mazzini posted a picture online of her 6-year-old son Teddy looking devastated as he sat at a table full of pizza with no friends, she had no idea that it would grab the attention and support of celebrities and NBA players alike.
Mazzini sent out the invites to Teddy’s classmates promptly and had no reason to assume that no one would turn up for the party. But when that happened, in the heat of the moment, the distraught mother pulled out her phone and took a picture of her son looking sad. She had no idea that the photo would go viral and even make it to a famous DJ’s social media accounts.
Peter Piper Pizza
Peter Piper Pizza is a kid-friendly pizza joint located in Tuscon, Arizona. Teddy is a popular kid at his school, and his mom made sure to order enough pizza to feed however many kids and parents showed up. When not a single one of the 32 classmates showed up, Mazzini was devastated, but mainly for poor Teddy.
Mazzini thought nothing of it when she shared the sad image with local newspaper reporter Nick VinZant. In the image, poor Teddy can be seen sitting almost in tears at a large table full of pizzas but with no friends to share the experience. That picture garnered more than 2,000 comments and was shared more than 1,000 times.
No sooner had Manzzini shared the image that she regretted ever doing so. “If I could go back in time back to that Sunday night I would have never sent the photo online. We are overwhelmed and can’t believe a photo would go viral like this. I hate it every minute of this exposure,” she said, according to Daily Mail.
The whole incident has been so traumatic for Mazzini and poor Teddy that she has decided to take him on a trip next year and not even try to arrange another party. As she said to the New York Post when asked if she would try to arrange a party for Teddy’s seventh birthday she said: “No we are not. Not anymore, I don’t think so because it’s so much planning for me. I will just take him on a trip.”
Possibly the most tragic part of this story is the fact that little Teddy was given the option by his folks to visit Disney World, Legoland, or have a party with his class. Unfortunately for Teddy, he chose the latter, and it turned out to be a total flop.
For her part, Mazzinni and her family described themselves as “heartbroken” over what had happened to Teddy. She said she believes it’s due to parents and kids being worn out from the school’s Halloween carnival which took place the day before Teddy’s party. On top of that, it was pouring with rain on that Sunday, and it’s possible no one felt like venturing out.
To make matters worse, only one parent called Mazzini to apologize for not showing up with her son to the party. As Teddy’s dad, Ted Bollinger said: “I was bummed, I was bummed out for sure,’ he said. “Teddy, the biggest things for him was having his classmates there, so not seeing them show up an hour into the party was disappointing,’ he added.
Being just six years old, Teddy didn’t understand fully the implications of what happened at his party. His mom even told reporters that he enjoyed the pizza he got and also enjoyed playing on arcade games inside the store. Teddy made do on that day and according to his parents he “got over it quick.” But the viral image of him looking sad was still online and gaining likes.
According to Bollinger, he told his wife not to post the image to social media, knowing it could well go viral and create a problem. “He’s six, so he was distracted by the arcade games, the pizza, he got over it quick. He’s tough. But when Sil told me she was posting [the photo], I told her not to do it, but she did, and it took off. It’s pretty wild,” he said.
Because Bollinger works at an oil field in Alaska, he doesn’t get to see his son Teddy so often. Just the fact that his pops was there at his party made Teddy smile, even if he was disappointed that he had to celebrate alone. “So at the end of the day, he was very happy,” Mazzini said.
The family has sadly been criticized a lot on social media for posting that picture of Teddy. Nevertheless, Mazzini claims she didn’t post the image to get sympathy. “We didn’t do this for attention or for gifts or anything,” she said. “I did it in the moment, but I wasn’t smart. I was upset. That’s it.”
The family bought the pizzas in advance of the guests, having received 15 RSVPs from parents who said they were bringing their kids to celebrate with Teddy. When not a single one of his classmates from BASIS Tuscon Primary School showed up, Teddy’s parents were at a loss as what to do to minimize the damage. The pizza was ordered, the goodie bags prepared but no one showed.
It’s not as if the party was organized as a last minute thing. As Mazzini explained to reporters: “I sent invitations two weeks in advance with my phone number and had 32 goodie bags full of toys for each kid in the class.” And the wasted pizza ended up costing the family $130, and all the goodie bags were wasted too. Nevertheless, Mazzini came under a lot of pressure from people online who claimed she was trying to get sympathy for Teddy.
Mazzini just thought she was posting an image online and had no idea that it would go viral. As she explained, “I was kind of shocked and then at the end when I had to pay for it, I was upset. That’s why I wrote a message. But I never expected any of this, for this to go so viral,” she said. Nevertheless, the fact that the image did go viral has opened up some amazing opportunities for Teddy and his parents.
Having made the rounds online, the viral photo of Teddy at his party caught the attention of both the Phoenix Suns NBA team and the Phoenix Rising MLS team. They invited Teddy to celebrate his birthday at their next game, offering him free tickets for the match and a personalized jersey.
Teddy was thrilled when he received the Twitter invite from the team who wrote, “Teddy can get The Mala from @VeneziasPizza and join 7,000 of his closest friends this Friday. Come on out Teddy! #UpRising.” And Teddy and his family decided to take them up on their offer.
Teddy was excited to be able to attend the Phoenix Suns game versus the Los Angeles Lakers as a special VIP guest. He was also excited to see Lebron James in action. However, the original viral photo also made its way to someone even more famous: the much-loved DJ Khaled.
For whatever reasons, DJ Khaled decided to post the image of Teddy looking sad to his Instagram account along with the caption: “Bless up and happy birthday to the Young King Teddy! The Khaled Family, @asahdkhaled and the We The Best foundation want to send you a birthday present!” Thanks to all the online love he received, Teddy was able to move on the from the flopped party incident.
When Teddy arrived at school the next day, his friends and classmates apologized for not attending his pizza party. As his mother told reporters, “It was a tough day for him, but it happened, and we’re moving on.” As a result of the whole thing, Teddy has made hundreds of new online friends and has received so much support. The pizza party is now a distant memory for a kid who has moved on with his life.