"He's got more hope now," said Jarek Nowik, a good friend of Paul's father, Darek Pietrowski.
According to Nowik, after Paul marched in the parade, the boy told him that he truly believes that people will help him to stay alive. Nowik said that a lot of people were yelling "good luck" and "you can do it" and he believes that the community understands and will come to their aid.
One generous donation was from Father Gene Dyer of St. Mary's Church in Des Plaines. Father Dyer stopped by the Thorne's home and dropped off a $2,000 check to help Paul with his battle. According to Mr. Thorne, Paul had his first communion at St. Mary's Church before he became seriously ill.
"I think the foundation is doing pretty good," said Nowik. He said that Lenny and Diane Thorne, owners of Why Not Aluminum who started the Paul Pietrowski Foundation, have been extremely helpful to the family. According to Nowik, Paul was tired, but he wanted to walk in the parade as much as he could. His father carried him the rest of the way.
"I think they're being very sympathetic," said Mrs. Thorne, referring to the residents of Des Plaines.
"I was so proud of that church of ours," said Mrs. Thorne, referring to Christ Church in Des Plaines. She said that Christ Church has been very supportive and they have offered to have a special offering for Paul in September.
According to Mrs. Thorne, approximately $4,000 has been donated to the Paul Pietrowski Foundation, from familiar faces and concerned neighbors. She said that they also received an anonymous $500 donation, a donation from St. Stephens Church in Des Plaines. City of Des Plaines Principal Account Clerk Wendy Johnston and her two children have volunteered to put flyers in mailboxes throughout the community.
"I have a son that's the same age," said Johnston. After reading a previous article about Paul and seeing him in the parade, Johnston said she could not imagine the pain his family was going through and she felt the need to help him. A front page story about Paul appeared in the Tuesday, July 3 Journal.
"These guys can't afford it," said Mrs. Thorne, referring to two young men who have shown their generosity. She said that Ryan Mckenna and Oscar Rodriguez, who work at Why Not Aluminum, have offered to donate $20 from each week of their pay checks that they receive to help Paul. She said that her son, Jeff Franzen, donated $5 of his allowance and her daughter, Melissa Thorne, designed and wrote the yellow flyers that were passed out at the parade and has also written a letter to Oprah Winfrey about Paul. According to Mrs. Thorne, Roger Hull, president of the Des Plaines Chamber, has also taken much time and effort to help fight on behalf of Paul.
Mr. and Mrs. Thorne will continue to distribute flyers, make phone calls to different organizations and churches and work on personal donations. They are also in search of people who are willing to help them conduct various fundraisers.
"He was a brave little guy," said Mrs. Thorne, referring to the way Paul struggled to march in the parade. "Every day he has to face things he can't do."
"It's so scary," said Mrs. Thorne, thinking about the devastating outcome if Paul does not receive the support that is desperately needed to allow him to continue to enjoy being a young boy. Without the community's help, the future looks very dim. With the community's help, however, Paul has the ability to lead a healthy and happy life again.