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Brotherly Love: Johnny’s Rainbow

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) – A Delaware County family lost their child, but they found a way to honor his memory and help others at the same time.

Eight-year-old Ian Hatzell is autistic. He loves his swing and he also loves his trampoline, so when he wants you to jump with him, you jump with him!

Ian’s mother Marj says he feels free while flying through air. She talks for Ian, because he doesn’t speak.

“Due to Ian’s autism, he has some challenging behaviors,” said Marj.

One of those behaviors is extremely dangerous: getting out of a moving car. Ian has climbed out of harnesses before.

“It was really scary,” said Marj. “He just he jumped out of the car, hit the ground and took off.”

Money was tight. A new stronger car harness cost hundreds of dollars. But Marj heard about Johnny’s Rainbow Foundation and Lisa Bellopede, who helps special needs families with costly expenses.

“A lot of things aren’t covered under insurance, and we know that as parents,” Lisa said.

Lisa knows because her son Johnny had a chromosome disorder that was similar to autism. In 2006, Johnny went to sleep and never woke up.

“It was just very sudden, when it all happened. It was very very difficult,” said Lisa.

The family knew they wanted to do something to honor Johnny, so they created Johnny’s Rainbow Foundation. In two years, the foundation has given away $8000 in grants to families like the Hatzells. They paid for a stronger car restraint for Ian.

“They literally, in three days, they turned my life around,” said Marj.

As for Lisa, she said, “I think Johnny would be looking down and saying thank you for helping my friends.”

Johnny’s Rainbow Foundation is looking to raise more money at a golf outing in June.

For more information on Johnny’s Rainbow, click here.

Watch the video…


Reported by Dave Huddleston, CBS 3

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