After learning of his friend’s battle with multiple brain tumors, 10-year-old Kankakee resident Andrew Lititot decided to join the fight too, raising more than $5,000 selling Christmas ornaments which he personally designed and painted.
“I wanted it to be like the Publisher’s Clearing House,” Lititot said after presenting a large novelty check to the University of Michigan Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Center yesterday.
He was first inspired to raise money to help pay for the medical care of his friend, eight-year-old Caleb Cook.
Lititot met Cook in school and decided to get involved after learning about his battle with brain tumors.
“I just did it to help out Caleb,” Lititot said.
Lititot came up with the idea of selling Christmas ornaments after finding several unused ornaments in his garage.
“My mom brought them back from Alaska … they were 20 years old,” he said.
He painted personal designs on each ornament.
After earning almost $100 at his school’s benefit dinner for Cook, Lititot began to sell the ornaments around his neighborhood and in a local jewelry store.
Lititot donated all the proceeds from the previous year to Cook and his family.
“It was so overwhelming,” Dana Cook, Caleb’s mother, said. “It was just really touching.”
Lititot’s ornaments were so popular that he decided to continue selling them this past year.
Both Rausch Industries, which produces ornaments, and Delta Technical Paints donated supplies to help Lititot with his fundraising endeavor.
This year, he sold more than 1,000 ornaments and raised $5,744 to donate toward brain tumor research.
His check was presented to the center yesterday in a small ceremony.
“We put in lots of hours and lots of our own time,” Karin Muraszko chief of pediatric neurosurgery, said. “Things like this kind of give you that extra little umph to continue this.”
After presenting Muraszko with the check and balloons, Lititot received a plaque recognizing his efforts on behalf of Cook and his support toward brain tumor research.
“The good news is that I think Caleb’s going to do really well,” Muraszko added as a final note.
Lititot added that he plans to continue selling the ornaments, but he wants to find another charity to sponsor his work.