At the birthday party for Fort Mill’s Kyler Salters, turning 6 years old, the theme was heroes. Kyler’s mom and dad, Monica and Mike Salters, sent invitations to the kids in his kindergarten class to dress up as Spider-man, Cam Newton, any hero the kid wanted to be.
But none of the kids needed costumes. Every one of them was Superman or Wonder Woman.
Kyler Salters, just 6, about 4 feet tall and 45 pounds, was the biggest hero of all.
Kyler didn’t want any presents for his birthday. Kyler’s parents asked the parents of the children invited to the party to bring an unwrapped gift because Kyler wanted to give the toys away.
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Kyler decided before the party he wanted to give his birthday presents to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program that benefits needy children at holiday time.
“I just wanted little boys and little girls to have a toy,” Kyler said. “I’m a little kid. I know I like toys. Every little kid needs a toy to play with.”
The little children arrived in their costumes and their jerseys at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. The crew carried dolls and clothes and toys. Toy trucks and cars and stuff for little girls. They ate chicken nuggets and cupcakes and ice cream.
They sang the most sung song in the history of the world, “Happy Birthday” and Kyler thanked all his classmates for helping out kids who might not have a costume or a new toy on Christmas.
The idea was embraced by the Salters after they saw a TV show about a girl collecting shoes for poor children. Kyler, and his mom and dad, figured that there were children in York County who needed something.
“Kyler right away liked the idea,” said Monica Salters, Kyler’s mom.
Mike Salters, Kyler’s father, talked of how proud he is that his son at such a young age would think of other kids first.
The family was not the only ones touched by Kyler’s thoughtful and selfless birthday party. The party was for heroes, so the Marines showed up.
Ed Egan, the local coordinator for the annual Marines Toys for Tots program that collects and distributes toys for the holidays, came to the birthday party in his formal uniform.
“I think he was a general,” Kyler said with a smile.
Egan is a captain in the Marines, but for a 6-year-old kid dressed up as a superhero, every guy in a uniform is a general.
Egan gave Kyler a poster, a coin and a special pin, and told the party that Kyler Salters was what being a real hero is all about.
“It was an honor to be at that party,” Egan said. “This young man showed with his actions what it means to care about others.”
Then Egan did what Marines do when confronted by a superior officer. Kyler Salters stood on a chair so he could be close to Egan’s height. Kyler Salters wings from his superhero outfit spread out past his shoulders. Then Capt. Egan saluted Kyler Salters.
“It is an honor to salute a real American hero,” Egan said.