UPDATE: The family said that someone got in touch with them after seeing CBS 17’s report and has offered to buy a slightly used communication device on eBay to replace the stolen one.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A family is looking for help from the community after someone stole a device their son relies on to communicate.
“You took my son’s voice,” said Jamie Santana.
Nine-year-old Leo is living with a genetic disorder called 1p36 deletion syndrome, which delays his development. He only says a few words.
Santana said it took years for her son to be able to begin learning how to use a device similar to a tablet where he can point to things to help him convey what he can’t say.
“He was able to communicate his wants and his needs. He was able to show me if he was hurt, or if he had any pain, or if he was hungry,” Santana said.
On Feb. 18, Leo’s parents went outside to one of their cars looking for the device and discovered it was gone. They had left the car unlocked.
“Shoot, we’ve been living here five or six years now. We’ve never had anything broken into,” Santana said. “I really think it was probably a young kid that probably thought it was an iPad or a tablet or didn’t realize what it actually was.”
Her family is trying to raise $7,000 to replace the device. Click here for more information on the fundraiser.
Santana contacted the police soon after it was stolen. Her family is also offering a reward for its return.
She said she’s grateful for the response from the community so far. They’ve received nearly $3,000 in donations as of Tuesday evening.
“I think it’s one thing to know that there’s people out there that care and want to help you. But, then there’s another thing of actually people doing it,” she said.