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Police investigate alleged theft of funds for son's surgery

By Jessica Naziri, CNN
  • The money was for surgery to reconstruct the boy's missing ear, his parents say
  • Police said the money was placed in bag following a fundraiser
  • "I should never have left it out of my sight," the man looking after it says

(CNN) -- The parents of a 9-year-old boy are trying to come to terms with the apparent theft of some $8,000 raised during a community fundraiser meant to help pay for their son's surgery.

Aidan Sullivan's parents said they had planned to put the money toward an operation to reconstruct the boy's missing right ear.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking that someone would steal" that money, the boy's father, Timothy Sullivan, told CNN. "My wife and I are devastated someone would do this, not just to us, but to a little kid."

Sullivan suffers from a congenital disorder that has caused deformities in his jaw and skull and, according to his parents, has already undergone 10 related operations.

His mother, Colleen Sullivan, claims that someone walked away with an envelope filled with some $7,000 in cash and $1,000 in checks.

"When we found out the money was gone, I was in disbelief." she said. "Aidan had to endure so much already. It's hard as a mom to see this, especially because my son wanted this.

"Words don't put together how I feel; emptiness."

Danbury, Connecticut, Police Lt. Tom Michael said the incident occurred Saturday, after the money was placed in a bag following a fundraising event sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternal organization.

Police are investigating, Michael said.

Peter Drake, a friend of the boy's father, said he collected the money and probably was the last person to see it.

"I feel awful about the whole thing," Drake said. "I put the envelope with money down for a second and when I returned, it was gone. I should have never left it out my sight, but that was the last thing I was thinking about."

Timothy Sullivan said Drake called him after the incident.

"It was hard to listen to a 47-year-old man crying," Sullivan said. "It was horrible. He was devastated."

He said the operation for his son is scheduled for March 1 and will involve reconstructing an ear using cartilage from one of the boy's ribs.

"The money was supposed to help tackle tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, not covered by insurance," he said. "Now we have to come up with the money and we need to look elsewhere for it."