Feel-Good Friday: On Bosom Friendships and Why They Matter to One Special-Needs Man

A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too. Do you think it’s possible?

Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The Anne of Green Gables” series is among my favorite books, and Anne’s desire to find an intimate friend is a universal one. While it is indeed possible, sometimes obstacles stand in the way of meeting those people who are truly our tribe. Everyone needs a close ally to whom they can share their life and share their heart. That quest for true friendship, a mother’s plea to see her special-needs son find it, and how that’s all going, is the subject of this week’s Feel-Good Friday.

Do you remember the story in February 2023 about a 24-year-old young man with Down syndrome who just needed some friends? 

Christian Bowers of St. Charles, Missouri, has Down syndrome, which didn’t stop him from making friends in high school. But, according to Today, after he graduated and left the school’s social atmosphere, he had a hard time making friends. The situation was made worse because his siblings had people over all the time.

“On the weekends, Christian watched his older sisters have sleepovers and attend parties while he sat on his own,” his mom, Donna Herter, told Today. Six months after leaving school, Bowers kept asking his mother, “When are my friends coming over?” and she had no words for him.

Herter had no idea what to do. You can’t force adults to be friends, but she couldn’t bear to watch him suffer. So she decided to pay someone to be his friend.

Herter posted her entreaty on Facebook.


This is where the virality of social media does good. Herter received many offers and messages from people who wanted to spend time with her son, and who did not want to be paid. The response was overwhelming, and included those gifts to Bower of a television and video games that helped facilitate his social interaction with others. Local station KMOV decided to do a follow-up to see how Bowers was doing.

One year after a heartbreaking online plea for friends for her son, Donna Herter said he’s had the best year of his life.

“There’s kind people out there still even though all you see is the negative,” said Herter. “This has just been one of the best years of his life.”

It was in February 2023 that Herter published a post on Facebook, calling on young men her son’s age to reach out to her. In return for a two-hour visit each month, she would pay them $80 for their time.

“The money was to ensure they showed up,” she said. “He’s had so many people tell him they’ll come over someday and they never do.”

What followed, Herter was hardly prepared for. Her post was shared more than 59,000 times around the world, as gifts and offers began pouring in. Her son Christian’s calendar was booked out for months–no one accepting a dime.

Now, more than a year after the original post, she said the family has exactly what it asked for.

“My original intent was to find two people his age to come over once a month and that’s exactly what we have now,” she said. “He’s content, he’s not overwhelmed and these guys have come over religiously for the past year.”


One of the friends is expecting a baby and building a family of his own, but Dan Moss still takes time for Bowers because he genuinely enjoys his company. 

“I just enjoy hanging out with him, honestly. We have a good time every time I come over, joke around, just laugh and have a good time,” he said.

On a recent visit, Moss brought along a friend of his, leaving the three to play video games and enjoy themselves in Christian’s room. 

Herter has said that these new friendships have contributed to her son’s socialization, and has allowed him to build confidence. Two things that have been shown to be lacking in the screen generations: younger Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha. Learning how to interact socially, acquiring a viewpoint from different people entering your world, and just experiencing the enjoyment of being around other human beings is critical to our stability, our growth, and our mental well-being. 

Like Anne’s lifelong friendship with Diana Barry, I hope Christian Bowers’ friendships continue to enrich his life and bring him joy. That’s what friends are for.

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