On any other morning, Erin Weinburger would have been perplexed, perhaps even a bit alarmed, to see hundreds of strangers lingering outside of her home—all patiently waiting, all in yellow-colored vehicles. But this past Wednesday, when Weinburger peeked outside just before dawn, she wasn’t confused or concerned by the mustard-colored masses. After all, she had invited them to come.
Earlier this summer, the Alexandria, Virginia, resident set up an event on Facebook: “Whitaker’s Surprise Bumblebee Walk.” In her post, Weinburger invited any of her Facebook friends with a yellow car or truck to park their vehicle outside her family’s home on the morning of her son Whitaker’s fourth birthday. The Transformers character Bumblebee is Whitaker’s favorite, she explained, and seeing a street lined with “Bumblebees” would surely make his day.
A local TV station first caught wind of the story and, in no time, Weinburger’s post went viral, gaining national news pickup. But all the attention had nothing to do with Transformers or yellow cars. It had everything to do with the birthday boy himself.
Diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma as a baby, Whitaker’s surgeries, cancer treatments and bone marrow transplants had prevented him from ever having a proper birthday celebration. So, with his medical scans now stable, his mom was determined to give her brave son a birthday morning he’d never forget.
Overwhelmed by the tremendous outpouring of support and kindness, Weinburger held back tears when she opened her front door that morning to surprise Whitaker with the “Bumblebees” parked outside. More than 200 yellow vehicles, from a Maserati to buses and construction vehicles, lined their street. The parade of well-wishers brought together neighbors and strangers—some who’d made an overnight trek from several states away—to give the pint-size cancer survivor an outsize smile on his special day.
“I’m completely overwhelmed,” said an emotional Weinburger as she surveyed the joyous faces filling her neighborhood. “I’m so thankful. This is all community coming together, and it’s amazing.”
Read more about Whitaker’s Bumblebee birthday, and see video of his wide-eyed walk to school here: