CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Chandyn Thompson has finally come home.
The 10-year-old Rockford boy who needed emergency brain surgery while on spring break in Florida was flown back to Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon.
“Just to see a sparkle in his eye and a little smile, and to know we’re home. We just want to thank everyone,” Chandyn’s mother, Randi Thompson, told reporters after his plane touched down on Signature Flight Support’s runway at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
The good news didn’t stop there. A spokeswoman at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital told 24 Hour News 8 late Wednesday afternoon that Chandyn had been upgraded from critical to serious condition.
It was less than two weeks ago that doctors found Chandyn had a rare brain disorder after he fell ill on a family vacation in Tampa.
His family’s plight to get him home garnered huge attention. An online fundraiser collected nearly $50,000 in just two days. And not long after that, Chicago-based AeroCare stepped up too, providing Wednesday’s flight in a medically-equipped jet pro bono.
“This is so much more rewarding because you’re saving lives,” Chuck Werth, AeroCare’s director of operations, said after the flight landed.
Rockford Ambulance then gave Chandyn a ride to the hospital.
While the support for Chandyn has stretched beyond state lines, it perhaps resonates most at Valley View Elementary, where he is a student. Chandyn’s teachers and fellow classmates have created YouTube videos in support of the fourth-grader and have even spearheaded their own fundraisers.
“We’ve seen our kids step up, and they have learned so much about how to lead and how to give through this experience,” Bob Siegel, Chandyn’s principal, told 24 Hour News 8.
It’s still unclear how long and difficult Chandyn’s recovery will be, but his family knows they have hundreds — if not thousands — of people on their side.
“It’s overwhelming. It shows the kindness that people have in their hearts,” Chandyn’s father, Jeff Thompson, said.
“Just the generosity and support and the outreach of so many — people who don’t even know us or Chandyn — that’s really lifted us up. It’s given us the hope to deal with the days that you don’t know how you’re going to get through,” Randi Thompson added.
Chandyn has been responding to commands and giving thumbs up, but still needs round-the-clock care. The money raised online will now be used for his other medical expenses.