Fact Check

Shane Bernier Appeal

Cancer sufferer Shane wants to set a world record for number of birthday cards received?

Published Feb 8, 2007


  Cancer sufferer Shane wants to set a world record for number of birthday cards received.

Status:   Multiple:

  • Cancer sufferer Shane Bernier in Ontario, Canada, wants to set a world record for number of birthday cards received:   Was true, but is no longer the case.
  • Cancer sufferer Shane in Crystal Lake, Illinois, wants to set a world record for number of birthday cards received:   False.
  • Cancer sufferer Shane in Schuylerville, New York, wants to set a world record for number of birthday cards received:   False.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, February 2007]

There is a little boy named Shane Bernier, who has been diagnosed with cancer (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). He was doing alright for a while, but had a relapse this past summer. So he is at CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario) and his big wish? To get as many birthday cards as possible for his birthday.

He will be turning 8 on May 30, and he really wants to try to make a record for as many cards as he can. Even if he doesn't make the record, apparently he just gets absolutely thrilled with seeing his name on each card.

You can also send them to the local tv station, CJOH, Local radio station, KISS FM, or, right to Shane's house:

Shane Bernier,
Box 484,
Lancaster Ontario
K0C 1N0

Origins:   This request for birthday cards for a languishing tot first reached us in January 2007. Unlike some of the other "sick child asks for cards" entreaties, this one was for real — there was such a child, and both his condition and request were as described.

On 30 May 2007, Shane Bernier, of Lancaster, Ontario, turned eight. His wish was to receive birthday cards, as many as possible.

At the age of four, Shane was diagnosed as having Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). While he did go into early remission, he suffered a relapse in July 2006 and underwent a course of chemotherapy at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) until the end of June 2007, at which time he was placed on a maintenance program with weaker chemo into


If the chemo doesn't work, he might have to have a bone marrow transplant. His six-year-old brother, Jacob, is a donor match.

According to Shane's mother, Nathalie Bernier, after the latest round of chemotherapy is completed Shane will have an 80% chance of being fine for the rest of his life

As of his 8th birthday (in May 2007), Shane had received nearly two million cards, of which he and his family had by then opened 650,000. By December 2007, he had received more than 13 million. He opens every envelope and reads the ones that are written in French. (His mother and grandparents read the English ones to him.) His mother also reports he's doing quite well.

While there is no official record for the most birthday cards received in a single year, Craig Shergold is believed to have received in the neighborhood of 250 million get-well cards across the span of his appeal (although Guinness World Records retired that category in 1992 at 33 million after finding those kind of campaigns keep circulating long after the recipients wants them to stop).

As Guiness has concluded, the danger with such entreaties is they don't magically end when the need is fulfilled. (To gain a better appreciation of how much havoc good intentions can wreak even when the appeal is valid, see the horrendous tale of what Craig Shergold and his family have endured thanks to that lad's years-ago request for cards. The Shergold family had to move because of the influx of well-intentioned mail.)

The Bernier family has asked that folks stop sending cards — the more than thirteen million already received are more than enough.

Barbara "house of cards" Mikkelson

Update:   In May 2007 a version of this e-mail solicited birthday cards for a boy named Shane (no surname) in Crystal Lake, Illinois:

The Barrington and Crystal Lake area chapters of Make A Wish Foundation have asked for our help. A little boy in grammar school in Crystal Lake is enrolled in the Make A Wish Foundation. Regrettably, he is in end stages of leukemia. Shane was asked what his wish would be if it could be made possible, and unlike others before him, he didn't ask to meet a famous baseball player or go to Disney World. No, Shane has asked for an unusual opportunity for immortality. He wants to set the Guiness Book of World Records for receiving the Most Birthday Cards.

Shane's birthday is May 30th, coming up. If you can take a moment to send him a birthday card, it would mean a great deal to him and his parents. Please consider passing Shane's request on to family, friends or
acquiantanceswho might lend a card and stamp to help try to make this young boy's wish come true.

Send birthday cards to:

C/O Canterbury School
875 Canterbury Drive
Crystal Lake IL 60014

The Crystal Lake version is false, according to Canterbury Elementary:

The message about the terminally ill boy at Canterbury School in Crystal Lake School District 47 wanting to collect birthday cards to break a record is FALSE!!! Please do not send birthday
cards to the school. Thank You.

Later in May 2007, a Shuylerville, New York version began to circulate:

There is a little boy named Shane who lives in Schuylerville and will be 8 years old on May 30th. He has cancer and is terminally ill. His wish through the Make A Wish Foundation is to get one million birthday cards.

He turned down a trip to Disneyland to get one million birthday cards. Could you Please help? Store bought and homemade cards are welcome.

Please send them to:

Judy Dunkle
C/O Schuylerville Elementary School
14 Spring Street
Schuylerville, NY 12871

Please pass the word on to your family and friends.
Thank you for all your help.

The Schuylerville version is also false:

Yes we are trying to clarify the misinformation along the way this has been changed. We are only a school that made cards for Shane. PLEASE DO NOT SEND CARDS TO US. We are directing people to www.shaneswish.com for his address and information. Please remove our name and information from the
e-mail. Thank you

Additional information:  

    Shane's Birthday Card Wish   Shane's Birthday Card Wish   (A-Channel News)

Last updated:   11 December 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Campbell, Jennifer.   "Shane Turns Birthday Cards Into Quest for Recognition by Guinness World Records."

    Ottawa Citizen.   3 February 2007   (p. E5).

    Lajoie, Kevin.   "Shane's Special Birthday Wish."

    Cornwall Standard Freeholder.   27 January 2007   (p. 2).

    Lajoie, Kevin.   "Thousands of Cards Pouring in for Shane."

    Cornwall Standard Freeholder.   1 February 2007   (p. 2).

    Mandel, Michele.   "They Came From 36 Nations to Make a Little Boy's Wish Come True."

    Toronto Sun.   31 May 2007.