ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — A Rockford third-grader raised nearly $17,000 for her 3-year-old cousin who was born with a rare genetic disorder.
Ally DeVries decided she wanted to raise money to help cover medical bills for her cousin Wyatt after her teacher Alice Matlosz encouraged the kids to do a selfless act for the Christmas season.
Wyatt was diagnosed at birth with Ring Chromosome 1 Disorder — although there is no technical name for it since it is so rare. He is one of only five documented cases in the world and the only person to live past 2 months old. He was also diagnosed with a brain tumor two days after Christmas in 2014 and was recently diagnosed with seizures.
Ally and her teacher at Valley View Elementary School came up with the idea to do a pop can challenge with an initial goal of $1,000.
Soon her classmates began participating and the money started coming in.
The third grade class had plans to give Wyatt and his family the money they had raised on Jan. 29 for his third birthday, but their plans had to be postponed until Feb. 9 because of a snow day.
“We were supposed to earlier, but God had a plan that he wanted to do it later, so it went on later and we ended up raising a lot more money,” said Ally.
Although it was a disappointment at first, the extra week gave students more time to raise even more money with a final total of $16,810 thanks to pop can and cash donations.
“They have such big hearts and I think that to see them support their classmate, to support someone like Wyatt who has special needs and to take time out of their day to collect pop cans, talk to relatives and spread his story that’s just been Wyatt’s path in the sense of people coming together in the community,” said Wyatt’s dad Derek Russ.
Wyatt’s mom Ashlea has started a blog about her journey. You can follow it at theonlywyatt.wordpress.com.