A granddaughter who lives thousands of miles away from her grandparents decided to honor their 70th wedding anniversary with a truly momentous gift that saw her amass over 150 celebrity signatures and messages that congratulated the pair on their milestone.
Belinda Bannister orchestrated the gift from her home in Germany, which she then sent to Richard and Mary Arambula of Bakersfield, California. Amidst the mound of congratulations were messages from every living U.S. president, a hoard of Hollywood actors, and even the Pope.
Some of the actors and actresses who wrote to them included Judi Dench, Dolly Parton, George Clooney, Heidi Klum, Bob Newhart, Dakota Fanning, Len Goodman, and James Earl Jones.
As you would expect, Richard and Mary Arambula were both rather impressed with the heartfelt and thoughtful gift. 86-year-old Mary told the Bakersfield Californian, "This girl here [indicating Belinda Bannister] is something else. She said she was going to throw us a party. It turned out to be a big party."
87-year-old Richard added that the message that really resonated with him came from Pope Francis, who sent the duo an apostolic blessing. Richard admitted, "That was real meaningful to me. I mean, I'm a good boy, but..."
Belinda Bannister explained that she devised this plan back in March 2014. It was inspired after her grandmother received a birthday greeting from the White House. After looking at the card, Bannister explained, "Then we thought, 'Who else?' It just went from there."
Belinda Bannister then set up a Facebook page in March of 2014, which she then asked people to fill up with notes and messages. Meanwhile she also started writing to officials and politicians around the world as well as celebrities.
This culminated in over 150 celebrities sending responses to Belinda Bannister's request, which started with Sophia Loren and Judi Dench reaching out to her. Then more and more came flowing in, with Regis Philbin writing, "I'm impressed with what you've done with your marriage all these years." This was then joined by Tommy Chong's note of, "Congratulations on being together seventy years and not killing each other."
George Clooney provided a handwritten note that declared, "May I say happy 70th anniversary. That is an extraordinary milestone for which you should feel most proud. Love each other. Your friend, George Clooney."
All the living presidents made sure to get involved in the action too as letters from Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama soon arrived. Meanwhile, even their favorite sports teams got involved as the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers sent them congratulations.
One of the most heartfelt messages came from Joan Rivers' staff. Unfortunately the comedian passed away on September 4 before she could write the note, but her staff stated that she'd wanted to reach out to the Arambulas, so they sent one instead alongside a scarf and a pin.
Bannister admitted to 23ABC that the response was overwhelming. "We thought we would maybe get 10 responses," she remarked. "We thought we would have a lot of agents tells us they don't do that. We had some of those, but we never dreamed of getting 150 responses, it's insanity."
Richard and Mary Arambula originally met and married in Texas back in 1944 when they were just 17 and 16 years old. They moved to Bakersfield in the early 1940s where they have lived ever since. Even though their anniversary was officially in December, they were only presented with it earlier this month after Bannister traveled from Europe to see them.
[Image via Turnto23]