NJ police team up with 9-year-old battling rare brain disease to raise funds

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Thursday, January 4, 2024
NJ police team up with 9-year-old battling rare brain disease
To help raise funds for 9-year-old Ayden, the Bordentown Township police combined his love of Pokemon with a beard-growing contest.

BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- 9-year-old Ayden Ugo-Alum was diagnosed with cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy last year.

The disease can progress over the course of a few years with vision loss, hearing loss, and loss of executive function and motor control.

"They say that the life span is from 2-4 years," said Ayden's mother, Shawntell Manning.

Bordentown Township Police's school resource officer, Adam Edwards, knew Ayden since 3rd grade. When he heard the news, he teamed up with his fellow officers to raise funds.

"Through November and December, we donate money to a cause and are able to grow our facial hair out within reason," said Edwards. " Ayden loves Pokemon and we said Ayden was fueling his Pokemon journey with beard power, so he had to collect all of our beards."

Through their beard-growing contest, officers raised over $800. They created a video skit with Ayden on Facebook to promote their fundraising.

They also held a kick-off event and partnered with local businesses to add a few thousand to the total.

The greater community's contributions have led to over $50,000 being raised through GoFundMe with an additional $10,000 raised offline. The money will be used to support Ayden through his medical journey and other life experiences.

Ayden's mother is grateful for the overwhelming amount of support.

"We're just living our best lives now the best we can," she said. "And I'm extremely grateful for the community support because, without the community support, it would be 10 times harder."

To learn more about Ayden, watch the video above.

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