Tuesday was James Martin’s 14th birthday. He celebrated with some special gifts, a visit from firefighters and more than 1,000 birthday cards.

Martin suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It’s a fast-progressing disease with no known cure.

For anyone with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a birthday can be a bittersweet day. It means they have survived another year, but it can also lead to thoughts of uncertainty and anxiety about what the next year might bring.

Martin’s mother, Rachel Martin, had an idea to make her son’s 14th birthday special. She asked people from all over the world to write cards for James.

“James doesn’t have a big social life, so it just shows James that there are a lot of people out there … that are thinking of him,” she says.

By the big day, 1,180 cards had been delivered to the Martins’ Cambridge home. More were on their way.

There were cards from every province in Canada, as well as foreign countries like Australia, Ireland and Mexico.

“It’s overwhelming,” Rachel Martin says.

“It really melts my heart.”

Over the weekend, Martin started taping the cards to the walls of her kitchen. Before long, she was out of space.

James Martin’s birthday also included a visit from the Cambridge Fire Department, which brought three trucks and plenty of firefighters to his home.

The fire department had been promoting the card campaign since it began, and firefighter Keith Clarke says he and his colleagues were happy to volunteer their time to show Martin his importance.

“People care about him and know about him and celebrate him around the world,” he says.

“We were excited to hear about the opportunity to get involved, and share and spread the message.”

With reporting by Emma Ens