Elmhurst 6th grader donates birthday money to Sandy Hook School relief fund
ELMHURST — Elmhurst sixth grader Ryan Grady made a decidedly unselfish birthday decision for a 12-year-old. In lieu of presents, the young resident gave away his birthday money in December to the United Way's Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
Including the money his friends would have given Grady for his birthday, and other donations he and his parents collected from local businesses, more than $600 was donated to the fund in relief of families affected by the school shooting.
"I just cannot imagine that happening to us," he said. "You think about what would happen to you in that situation, what you would want."
Grady said he was particularly struck by the shooting, in which 20 kindergarten-age students and six faculty members were killed, because he is so close with his 6-year-old sister, Julia.
"He is super-duper close to his sister in kindergarten," said Grady's mom, Nancy Grady. "He was kind of beside himself about these innocent kids that are the same age as his little sister."
Ryan may have donated his presents, but he still received a special party from his parents. The family rented a bus and took a group of his friends to tour Solider Field to celebrate his birthday.
Nancy Grady said business donors included Maria and Tony Gambino, owners of Elmhurst restaurants Salseria Grill and Cantina and H.B. Jones.
Nancy said the family got the idea after attending other birthdays in town where donations to charity are given in place of presents.
"We feel that we're very blessed and our kids don't really want for much of anything," she said. "And we talked to Ryan, 'You don't really need another Xbox game, what do you think we should do?'"
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