How the world came together to find a #CupForBen

(ABC News) -- One dad's social media plea for a particular blue cup has turned into nothing short of a "miracle."

Marc Carter's son, Ben, has what Marc calls "severe" autism. Ben is now 14, and has drunk from the same kind of Tommee Tippee cup since he was 2.

The trouble is the company stopped making it about a decade ago and Ben refuses to drink from any other cups, his dad says.

So Marc, who lives in Devon, England, sent a tweet with a photo of the cup last week, hoping somehow, somewhere, someone would see it and realize they had the same cup stored away.

Nearly 20,000 retweets later, Marc's hunt for a #CupForBen has gained worldwide attention. "Several" of the long-discontinued cups have been located and are being shipped to Ben from as far away as Australia, Marc told ABC News.

The cups are crucial to Ben's well-being. Ben will go to the hospital suffering from dehydration rather than drink from any other cup, Marc said.

"He doesn't drink for any kind of pleasure. He drinks as a bodily function, and he only drinks when he eats," Marc said. "If he doesn't eat, he doesn't drink. On a hot day when he's not hungry, he gets dehydrated and gets very ill.

“We can't make him drink, it just won't happen. For all the people who think he could be forced to change or will suddenly make the decision himself, it really doesn't look likely."

Tommee Tippee, the company that manufactured the cups, is helping coordinate the social media efforts and delivery of the cups to the family.

While the family is incredibly grateful for the cups they have received so far, they still need more cups to last Ben throughout his life. And though the original mission was simply to locate a cup, this little blue cup has come to represent a lot more in the past week.

"Ben doesn't choose to be autistic,” Marc said. “I've had people tell me he needs to be forced to use a different cup. That won't work, we've tried. Ben just won't drink.

"This is so much bigger than the cup, or Ben,” he added. “It's about autism and how absolutely debilitating it can be when it means you can't live the life you want because it's controlled by your condition."

Editor’s note: The headline on this story has been updated to reflect the correct hashtag #cupforben.


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