LEXINGTON, Va. – Ray Painter is about to get a very special birthday gift.
The 99-year-old Lexington man turns 100 on May 5, and his retirement home, The Mayflower, put out a plea on Facebook for 100 birthday cards.
The picture of Painter has already gone viral.
Thousands of people have shared the image through Facebook, and dozens of cards have already shown up in The Mayflower's mailbox.
"It's still hard to believe that I've got that many cards," Painter said.
"I talked to the post lady yesterday who delivers our mail and told her, 'I'm just going to apologize now,'" said Becky Tacy, The Mayflower's administrator.
Painter, who served in the Army during World War II, says he appreciates the cards but wishes his wife of 65 years were alive to see them.
"I think about her every day," Painter said. "I know she'd be happy, too."
Beyond the cards, The Mayflower is also planning a big celebration on Painter's birthday.
"I don't know how hard it will feel. I've never been 100 before!" Painter said.
Even though there is still time before Painter turns 100, Tacy says she can't believe how many people have already told him they care.
"I'm not overly emotional, but when I was reading his cards, it was kind of hard for me to read to him because I wanted to tear up and cry," Tacy said. "It's just amazing. No one deserves it more than Ray."
If you want to mail a card, send it to this address:
c/o The Mayflower
409 S. Main St.
Lexington, VA 24450