Swedish boy breaks world record thanks to the help of strangers

A Swedish boy is now a world record holder after thousands of strangers responded to his mother's online plea to help make her son happier following his grandmother's death.

Swedish boy breaks world record thanks to the help of strangers
Adam Karlsson now has up to 300,000 pens thanks to the help of strangers. Photo: Katja Nybacka

Last year The Local reported on how Katja Nybacka posted an ad on Sweden's Craigslist equivalent Blocket asking if anyone with spare pens could send them to her son Adam, who has autism, ahead of his 10th birthday.

“Most people with autism have one or several special interests. One of this kid’s is that he collects promotional pens. Do you have one or several such pens you’re thinking of throwing away? Send me an e-mail and I would more than gladly pay for the postage, if you can imaging cheering up the boy's day and expanding his collection,” the ad read.

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The public responded, with hundreds of pens making their way to Adam each day soon after. Seven months later the response still hasn't stopped, and he now has enough ballpoints to claim the world record for the largest collection of unique pens.

“Right now Adam has 299,645 pens but there are also a lot that haven't been counted yet, so it's likely he will have passed 300,000 when all of them are counted,” mum Nybacka told The Local.

“They come in the post every day and have done since the first one in January. It's roughly 50-100 a day now it has calmed down a bit, at the peak several trash bags full of pens were being brought home!”

The previous record was 285,000 according to Guinness, who will now have two independent witnesses ensure Adam's record is valid.

Part of Adam's collection. Photo: Katja Nybacka

The massive public response – which includes a Facebook group dedicated to 'the pen boy' with more than 10,600 followers – has changed her son, Nybacka explained.

“Adam thinks all of this is incredibly fun. He has developed unbelievably during this journey. As has already been said he has autism and has always been shy and reserved but now he's a completely different kid. Everyone cheering him and supporting him has made him sure of himself, and above all he speaks to people now. So it has been so much bigger than just pens.”

And 300,000 pens later, is 'the pen boy' bored of his passion yet? Not a chance.

“Adam's definitely not bored of the pens, the opposite – he still has the same passion for them as he did in the beginning. He has a favourite pen that he keeps close – a nice little black one. It's the same kind as his magical world record pen – number 285,001,” his mum concluded.