The snow was coming down fast and heavy but that didn’t stop more than a 125 people from piling into Finn’s Harborside Thursday night to raise money for 5-year-old Isaiah Hazard, who was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) just a couple days after starting kindergarten at Frenchtown Elementary in September.
AFM is a rare and serious condition that affects the nervous system, causing muscles to become weak. It has been compared to polio and appears to be on the rise. Most cases occur in children.
As word spread of Isaiah’s situation – he quickly ended up in Hasbro’s intensive care unit, needing help even to breath – friends and family sought ways to help. Outgoing town councilman Andy Deutsch, Katie Isibel Bradshaw, and Isaiah’s uncle, Cody Hazard, teamed up to put on the fundraiser held Thursday.
Both floors of the restaurant were filled with family members, friends, and other well wishers, including a couple of Isaiah’s PICU nurses from Hasbro and several teachers from Frenchtown – even a couple who taught Trevor back when he was a student there.
You could feel the love.
“Isaiah’s my cousin,” said Hope Silva. “This is just so much support, knowing how much he’s loved. He’s my main motivation because one day he’s going to learn how to walk again. Just having all this support, I know it’s going to help him get through it.”
Isaiah moved from Hasbro to Franciscan Children’s in Brighton, Mass., for rehabilitation earlier this month. Erica Thompson and Trevor Hazard, Isaiah’s parents, were at Finn’s Thursday, but Isaiah was very present in their thoughts.
“It means the world to Erica, my family and myself to have everybody in the community come together and just show their support and show their genuine love for a young 5-year-old boy who’s fighting to walk again,” said Trevor.
“This is probably one of the hardest things we’ll ever have to endure, ever have to go through, but Isaiah’s strong and he makes us strong,” he said. “Every single day, when he fights, he goes through those therapies, Isaiah shows Erica and myself that he can do it, he can fight, he can make it through.”
Isaiah is making slow progress, according to his dad, Trevor. Despite everything, Isaiah remains cheerful.
As of Sunday, organizer Andy Deutsch said they’d collected more than $20,000 for Isaiah and his family, but that they weren’t done tabulating. If you would like to help out, search “Team Isaiah” on the Venmo phone app, or mail a check to Team Isaiah, 5600 Post Road, Suite 114, PMB #108, East Greenwich, RI 02818.