A 6-year-old boy with Down Syndrome from Washington County will be getting a new iPad to replace the one that was stolen last week thanks to a Google alert and the generosity of a local organization.
Just days before Christmas Elijah Miller's home was broken into and his iPad, which he uses everyday for communication, was stolen. When Eric Waksmunski, of Mahoning Township, saw the news from a Pittsburgh area TV station pop up in his Google Alerts, he knew he wanted to help.
Waksmunski is the president and CEO of the Shane and Wyatt Down Syndrome Foundation, an organization named after his 3-year-old twin boys who were born with Down syndrome.
He started the foundation mostly to help children of special needs with their early development and education. After seeing the way iPads helped his boys with their cognitive development, hand-eye coordination and even learning sign language, Waksmunski knew that the tools would be a part of the help the foundation would provide.
Right after reading the news, Waksmunski contacted the TV station, WPXI in Pittsburgh, offering help. The station forwarded his email to the Millers and the reporter covering the story. After talking to both, Waksmunski decided that he wanted to replace Elijah's iPad, and he wanted to do it quickly.
"Many people said that the school district who supplied the iPad to Elijah must have insurance, or could get him another one," said Waksmunski, "but I didn't want him to have to wait to cut through all of the red tape. He needed a new iPad, and he needed it soon, so I told them we were driving one out to them."
This isn't the first iPad the foundation has donated. Waksmunski is familiar with some of the largest Down Syndrome advocacy groups, including the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City. When the guild had a similar incident last year, they contacted Waksmunski to see if his foundation could help, and it did.
The Shane and Wyatt Down Syndrome Foundation has plans to deliver an iPad in the next couple of weeks locally, but for now Waksmunski is getting ready to make the four-hour drive to Washington County with his wife Mary Kate, and boys Jesse, Shane and Wyatt, to deliver Elijah a new iPad.
"He uses his iPad everyday to communicate, and that's why we have to get it to him as soon as possible," Waksmunski said.