An Unexpected Geography Lesson

Boy with Cancer Learns About the World Through Birthday Cards

By Kristin Quinn

Gabriel Rooker from Ohio turns four-years-old June 30, but instead of a typical children's birthday party he is being showered with cards from around the world throughout his birthday month. 

Gabe is battling stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare type of childhood cancer. To date, he has undergone seven rounds of chemotherapy, a tumor removal surgery, two broviac surgeries, a stem cell harvest and transplant, 12 rounds of radiation, and is currently undergoing antibody treatment. Since Gabe cannot  have a birthday party this year, his family and friends established a "Birthday Card Shower" as a way to make this birthday special and draw out the celebration throughout the month. Gabe's family is also plotting the locations Gabe receives cards from on a large wall map to add some extra excitement and education to the snail mail party. 

"Who knew we'd be having a geography lesson along with this? Please help us along!" Gabe's mom, Misty Rooker, wrote on the "Prayers for Gabe Rooker" Facebook page. As of June 9, Gabe has received 875 cards from 25 states and three countries, including the United Kingdom, China, and the United Arab Emirates.

When asked what Gabe's favorite card was so far, his mom said, "I think Dubai, especially because it was from a cancer survivor. Gabe would say Ohio because that's where his favorite card is from. It's a hamster dressed up like a cowboy and it sings."

She added that Gabe was also particularly excited to get a card from California, the home of his favorite "Cars" movie character Lightning McQueen. 

Trajectory magazine thinks it's great Gabe is learning geography through his birthday cards, and would like to help him receive cards from all 50 states and as many countries as possible. 

If you wish to send Gabe a birthday card, his address is:

Gabriel Rooker
P.O. Box 403
Amherst, OH 44001

If you're looking for some inspiration when picking out a card, Gabe enjoys cars and trucks, trains, dinosaurs, animals, Angry Birds, and Batman. Don't forget to share the link to this blog post as well.  

Best wishes and happy 4th birthday, Gabe!