David Deaton is a 13-year-old from Howell, Mich. In a few days, he'll have surgery to repair the hole in his ear that’s causing partial hearing loss on his left side, the Detroit Free Press reports. David has already had several surgeries to repair a cleft lip and palate.

With his 14th birthday approaching, David's mom, Heather Deaton, is asking for birthday cards for her son.

While the surgeries certainly haven't been easy, they are not the only difficulty he's facing: David's experiences at school have left him with anxiety, and feeling left out by other kids.

“It absolutely breaks my heart,” Deaton told the Detroit Free Press, “But I can’t shelter him from the world. It’s such a mean place. I just want him to have friends. These other kids don’t know what they’re missing out on by not being friends with him because he’s such a good, loving kid.”

David created an organization called Cleft Warriors, to connect with and offer support to other kids with cleft lip and palate.

He even attempted a garage sale this summer to raise funds to send gifts and cards to other children, but the project was set back when all the handmade signs and donated items for the sale were stolen.

Deaton says the idea for David's birthday came from one of the nurses who suggested a card party "because he’s been dealing with a lot of self-esteem issues and a little bit of depression. It’s just from some bullying that was going on at his school... He’s had really bad anxiety about going to school. It was to the point where every morning he would say he had a stomachache. … He wasn’t telling me what was going on. I just figured it out. He doesn’t feel like he has any friends.”

Deaton is hoping the cards and notes will boost David's spirits after his surgery April 11  at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

To send birthday wishes to David, send a card or letter to:

David’s Smile

100 Orndorf #611

Brighton, MI 48116

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