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A bittersweet birthday surprise
Sean Cameron blows out the candle on his birthday cake that was surreptitiously paid for by Brandon and Breann Smith in memory of their son Colten. - photo by Photo Contributed

Denair residents Brandon and Breann Smith are no strangers to the concept of random acts of kindness, but their latest effort really takes the cake.

The couple lost their son Colten James Smith in 2009 at the age of 19 months when he was attacked by a pit bull dog. Since his passing the couple has developed a tradition of performing little acts of kindness in his honor. They also coordinate an annual toy and blanket drive each year in his memory.

“We always do little things like pay for someone’s coffee or food or pay the toll for someone,” said Breann Smith. “We normally have a little celebration on his birthday and this year I had the idea that it would be fun to buy a cake for someone.”

Colten would have turned 6 years on Sunday.

“I know when I buy a birthday cake it can run $80 to $100, so I thought how great it would be to have someone come in expecting to pay that and then find out it had already been taken care of,” Breann Smith said.

It was with that thought in mind that Breann Smith came into Turlock’s Olde Tyme Pastries and asked if there was a birthday cake on order for a child turning 6 to 8 years old. Shortly before the bakery had taken a birthday cake order for the Cameron family, whose son Sean Cameron would be celebrating his 7th birthday with a party on Saturday, complete with a “Despicable Me” chocolate cake. 

The Smiths paid for the cake and left a note for the benefactors that read in part: “We wish your precious child a happy birthday … This random act of kindness is being done in memory of our son, Colten James Smith, who would be 6 years old on March 16, but gained his angel wings in 2009.”

“It sent a chill down my arm and put a tear in my eye when I read that note,” said Jerry Cameron, who came to pay for his cake on Saturday. “I felt both happy and sad. It was such a kind gesture, but the reason behind it was heartbreaking.”

The gift was bittersweet for the Smith family as well.

“We wish we were buying a cake for Colten,” Breann Smith said. “We try to celebrate his short life. Being able to pay it forward to someone helps. Hopefully it will spur other acts of kindness.”