By Ardeana Hamlin
Of the Weekly Staff
HERMON — Brody Quinn, 7, a child with autism and the son of Erin and Joshua McPherson of Hermon, is all smiles: He has a new iPad to replace the one lost at a Bangor restaurant on Easter Sunday.
In addition, two area organizations that focus on those with autism will benefit from donations made by those who wanted to help replace the lost device Brody depended on to help him communicate and keep him calm.
“People started calling the day [Thursday, April 11] the story came out in The Weekly. It was so amazing,” said Erin McPherson. “Brody had a new iPad that night. We saved it as a surprise for Friday morning.” Joshua McPherson spent Thursday evening getting the device set up.
The first thing Brody said when he saw the iPad was, “I want iPad, please.”
Unlike the old iPad, the new one is equipped with a camera. Right away, Brody wanted to make videos of his stuffed animals and watch vintage Sesame Street episodes on Youtube, his mother said. The device also has new learning apps on it, including jigsaw puzzles, word tracing and comprehension, fingerpainting,and “other really cool apps he can do with his teachers,” she said. “Every morning before he got the new iPad was a nightmare. Then after he got it, it was all calmness. It was great.”
Help came from many directions to help replace Brody’s lost iPad. When the McPhersons’ friends Amy and Erik Gagnon of Brewer heard about the loss of the device, they decided to surprise Erin and Joshua by launching a Facebook fundraiser asking friends and family to make a small donation toward the purchase of a new iPad. Soon, several hundred dollars had been raised, and calls were still coming in from those who wanted to help
“After reading the story in The Weekly, one man called and offered to purchase an iPad for Brody. Then he said ‘What’s an iPad?’ Then he and his wife donated $200,” Amy Gagnon said. That amount, added to funds already raised made it possible for the iPad to be purchased at a cost of approximately $600. As more people from as far away as Texas and California who read the story online called wanting to make a donation, Gagnon realized that “we needed a plan, and we needed to let Erin know what we were doing.”
From then on, those calling Erin and Joshua about donating were told that a new iPad already had been purchased and referred them to the Gagnons.
“But they wanted to donate anyway,” Amy Gagnon said. She expects funds donated will top $2,000, leaving approximately $1,400. Of that amount, a portion was donated in Brody’s name to the Walk Autism, which took place April 28. The remainder is earmarked for lifejackets and sand toys for Camp CaPella. The lifejackets will be purchased through a special program through Old Town Canoe, Gagnon said.
“Because he can’t express himself, no one knows how smart Brody is until he starts using his iPad,” said Amy Gagnon. “I wish I could get everyone together and say, ‘Thank you very much.’ It was a lot of people, some who were complete strangers, doing nice stuff.”
“A great big huge thank you to everyone. We can’t thank them enough,” Erin McPherson said.