The world seemed pretty heartless earlier this week to the family of Aidan Sullivan, a 9-year-old born with a disorder that left one side of his face underdeveloped, deforming his jaw and skull and leaving him without a right ear.
A thief crashed a fundraiser meant to pay for surgery to construct an ear for the boy out of the cartilage from his rib, making off with about $8,000 raised for the brave son of a New York City firefighter.
But today, a foundation in a nearby community was on its way to the family's home with a check to replace the stolen money, and others who read about the third-grader's plight have also offered to help.
"One person did a bad thing, but a lot of people are stepping up to help," Tim Sullivan, a lieutenant with the New York City Fire Department, told the local Journal News for a story today. "It proves to us that there are good people out there. We're very grateful."
Added his wife, Colleen: "A bad thing turned into a good thing."
Aidan, of Brewster, N.Y., was born with hemifacial microsomia, a congenital disorder where the right side of his face is underdeveloped. The boy has undergone about 10 surgeries already, and even though he doesn't like hospitals and worries about being away from his 4-year-old sister, Kaylee, he was looking forward to this particular operation.
"Finally, an ear," he told the New York Post. "I want to look normal."
The theft happened Nov. 20, at a fundraiser sponsored by a group of firefighters. According to Colleen Sullivan, about $7,000 cash collected that night was put in an envelope and then placed in a box with about $1,000 in checks that were collected at an earlier fundraiser.
But the box was stolen at the end of the night when a family friend put it down for a moment.
"Everybody that was in the place that night knew that we were there to raise money to put an ear on a little kid," Tim Sullivan told the local ABC News affiliate in an interview after the theft. "How could you be such a bad person to a kid, a 9-year-old kid that needs an ear?"
The family had already planned to go ahead with the surgery scheduled for March, but were unsure how they'd pay for the expensive procedure, which is not covered by the family's medical coverage because the doctors do not take insurance.
Then on Friday, the day after a Thanksgiving Day story detailed their loss, they received a telephone call from Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn, a volunteer with the Vincent Crotty Memorial Foundation, informing them that he, along with Vincent Crotty's father, Peter, would deliver a check to cover the loss.
The foundation, based in nearby Rockland, was formed in April after a car crash that killed high school baseball players Vincent Crotty and Christopher Konkowski.
"If we could take some of that pain away, then that's what we want to do," Crotty told the Journal News. "I saw no reason why we couldn't reach across the river and lend a hand."
- posted on AOL News, by Lisa Holewa
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