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Heartwarming Video Shows Mary Cate Lynch Surprised By Barbie Makers

BEVERLY — Mary Cate Lynch's fifth birthday isn't until Dec. 8, but the little girl who's taught hundreds of Chicago-area school children to "Choose Kind" received an early gift Monday.

The Barbie design team sent Mary Cate six dolls, a bracelet, a backpack and a closet full of extra clothes and shoes for her new toys. The box also included a personalized birthday letter as well as a framed picture signed by everyone on the team.

"We love how your family's message 'Choose Kind' teaches others about treating everyone with kindness, regardless of their differences," the birthday letter reads.

Mary Cate's mom, Kerry Ryan Lynch posted a video of her daughter opening the gift on Facebook Monday afternoon and already 19,000 people had viewed the smile-inducing clip by Tuesday morning.

"It was perfect. She was so excited," Lynch said.

The North Beverly mom said the package arrived courtesy of Rena Rosen, a North Sider who met Mary Cate more than a year ago after reading an article about her daughter's life with Apert syndrome.

Mary Cate was diagnosed with this rare disorder caused by an extra protein on one gene shortly after being born. It results in extra bones and cartilage, causing a misshapen skull and melded fingers and toes.

Rosen, 27, was also born with a craniofacial anomaly, though her condition was never diagnosed. Still, she too has endured a lifetime of surgery and everything else that comes with looking different, Lynch said.

As a result, she and Mary Cate stuck an immediate bond, meeting while the Lynches were giving a presentation to a junior high school about author R.J. Palacio's the preteen novel "Wonder."

The best-selling book relies on the underlying message to "Choose Kind," and Lynch speaks about the experience of the main character August Pullman, a boy born with a facial deformity. She then couples this lesson with a visit from Mary Cate.

This powerful combination has proven impactful for many children, particularly preteens who are at an age often susceptible to bullying.

Rosen reached out to a friend at toy-maker Mattel about two weeks after a recent meeting with Mary Cate. The pair spoke about her upcoming fifth birthday, and Mary Cate went on about how she was hoping for a Barbie cake, dolls and dollhouse.

She also asked to have five fingers for her fifth birthday. And while Mary Cate's middle two fingers will likely remain fused, Rosen set out to do what she could about the other items on Mary Cate's list.

For her part, Mary Cate promised to share her new dolls with her sisters — Maggie, 3, and 8-month-old Brydie. And there's a decent chance the new dolls will take up residence in a new dollhouse built by their father, Chris, come December, Lynch said.

"You hear so much bad news. It is easy to brighten someone's day with an act of kindness," she said.

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