NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — The family of 9-year-old Aidan Sullivan was struggling to understand a heartless crime this Thanksgiving. Someone stole their son’s surgery money that was collected at a community fundraiser.
“I want to look normal,” Sullivan said. It’s a tall order for the little boy as he was born with Hemifacial Microsoma, a congenital disorder where the right side of his face skull, and jaw is underdeveloped. Also, he’s missing his right ear.
This summer, he asked for one. “He came to Tim and I and he said, ‘Mommy and daddy, I want an ear’,” said Colleen Sullivan, Aidan’s mother.
Colleen Sullivan and her husband Tim, a New York City firefighter, scheduled the surgery for next March but needed help paying for it.
So they organized a fundraiser last weekend for Aidan at an Irish cultural center in Danbury, Connecticut, not far from their family home in Brewster, New York.
However, some thief apparently snatched Aidan’s proceeds, $8,000 in cash and checks.
“I was devastated, I’ve done a lot of crying. I’m very angry,” said Colleen Sullivan.
“I just feel terrible that somebody would take money from a kid, especially my kid, but any kid,” Timothy Sullivan said.
Besides family, friends and dad’s fellow firefighters, there were a few strangers at the fundraiser, though no one’s sure who took the money. Aidan’s parents said it doesn’t matter. “He will have his surgery. Tim and I have said we will figure it out, we will do it, and if that means we have to call the doctor and make monthly payments, we will do it,” Colleen said.
After all, Aidan and his family have struggled through ten other surgeries, including one to totally reshape his skull. The surgeries cost more than insurance pays, and donations make up rest.
Aidan’s father said the family must move beyond the setback. “We just gotta keep pushing forward and whatever it takes to raise the funds, pay the bills that are incurred by this we’re going to do,” Tim Sullivan said. “We’re hoping for the good in people but the police think the money is gone.”
Aidan said he’s ready for the next procedure, expecting no pain, “because I’ll be asleep,” he said.
When he awakens, Aidan hopes to have his new ear.
Police in Danbury, Connecticut are still investigating the theft.
The family has set up a Facebook page for anyone interested in donating.