To read more about this developing situation, please read my update here as well.
Very soon after Ayden was diagnosed with Fragile X, I ran across a website via another FXS parent that was hosting a merit-based special needs iPad giveaway. I don't often enter giveaways online, but this one was something that could help Ayden so much. I decided to enter him in the contest. To enter, one either had to comment on the post at this website or email your entry. I chose to email our entry, basically detailing all of Ayden's problem areas highlighting how he was non-verbal and very behind in fine motor skills and how the iPad would help with those areas. I honestly didn't expect anything to come from it. Instead of putting the events of the past few months in my words - I have linked to a direct copy of each email I received from Mike since March 21, followed by a summary of the email.
((If you click on the dates below, you can see each email in it's entirety or see the compilation of all the emails here.))
March 21: I received an email stating we were one of the forty finalists and that twenty of us would be chosen to receive an iPad. The email goes onto explain that should more money be raised then 35 of us will receive iPads as well as $500 in software.
May 8: (Mother's Day) I received an email stating that all forty of the finalists were chosen to receive iPads. Also, enough money had been raised for each of us to receive $500 in software as well. We were asked to turn our software lists in ASAP.
May 10: Email received telling everyone there were some delays with the legal paperwork.
May 11: Paperwork is taking longer than expected. Asked to give name/url to put in announcement for Mike's blog.
May 12: Notified that blog announcement has been made. We are asked to mention the new iPad raffle on our blogs if we choose to announce that we were a winner.
May 12 Email 2: More information about the raffle.
May 20: Paperwork still not completed. Asks again for application lists and informs us all will be receiving iPad 2. Again, asks we promote the new raffle on our blogs.
May 25: Informed paperwork should be completed on Friday (May 27).
May 28: Legal paperwork still not completed. Mike decides to ship iPads without it. We now are also receiving a $70 apple store coupon for a smart cover.
May 30: Asked for shipping addresses and a few sentences basically stating that we won't reveal who Mike works for and understand all the care of the iPad is our responsibility.
June 1: Yet another delay with the lawyers. This time, it is Apple.
June 7: An update to Apple's lawyer / paperwork issues.
June 10: Another Apple update. Supposed to have the final word later that day.
June 12: Informed Apple still didn't approve paperwork, another update will occur Tuesday. (June 14)
June 13: Apple and lawyer paperwork is now done. Everyone who has app lists in should have their iPad shipped that week. We are asked to share links for the new giveaway for iPads on our blog.
June 16: We are given specific instructions on what should be inside our iPad when it is received. Told to watch for shipping noticies within 72 hours.
June 17: All ipads have been packed, but not shipped.
June 20: Informed shipping should happen sometime today or tomorrow.
June 21: Some iPads have been shipped. The rest should go out tomorrow.
June 24: All iPads were shipped on June 23. Everyone should receive their shipping emails soon.
June 28: Seven iPads have been received. No shipping notices, but Mike decides to "take one for the team" and head to his office and see what is happening.
June 30, Email 2: Traveling to NC from VA but ended up getting delayed.
July 4: After looking at paperwork, only 15 of the ipads actually shipped. Mike is going to personally send each remaining iPad out himself and hang around until they are received.
July 5, Email 2: We are informed that our iPad was not one of the 15 shipped.
July 6, Email 2, Email 3, Email 4: Asked due to a record discrepancy who actually has received their iPad and who has not. We are later that evening copied on a "threatening" email to Mike (email 3) followed by an email stating he's made some mistakes but it was a long time ago. He has also pulled down the donation boxes from Marissa's Bunny.
July 7: We are informed that no more iPad will be shipped until the threat to his family is identified and resolved. We are told he is working with the police and lawyers.
July 9: A summary of the "story so far" by Mike. This was emailed to the winners, posted on Marissa's Bunny, and also at Love That Max where comments on the post were back and forth by Mike and others.
July 10: Mike makes a public apology via email to the winners. You can see the dialog between him and I in this email, but most importantly the end of his second email (sent the afternoon of July 11) where he states "We are going to deliver the iPads to the still interested as soon as I can, and as soon as I am allowed. If it takes too long, regretfully, I'm going to dip into Marissa's surgery fund."
July 11: All the winners are informed there are no iPads.
So where does this leave us? Definitely without an iPad. But mostly, I am disgusted and sickened. I cannot believe someone that is on this same journey with us could be so cruel and just plain horrible. This iPad was something amazing for Ayden. It's not something we ever considered purchasing because we just don't have that extra money for things we can do other ways. Yes, the iPad is better - but for now it's just not in the budget. We had planned to use it for so many things, visual schedules, social stores, an AAC device, and even for his fine motor skills (which is a huge problem area for him and many other FXS kids). The key to all this, is motivation. (as is with most Autistic children) It's so difficult to find things that motivate Ayden to do the activities that will help him but he adores touch screens. He plays with his little 1st Gen iPod touch all the time, but many apps won't even run on that since it can't be updated to iOS4. My heart breaks that something we thought we would have access to has now been ripped away from us. My only small comfort is that Ayden didn't know. Following some of the other winners, their kids were not as fortunate. One of them said her son cried himself to sleep last night. I can't imagine.
There are other things in motion that hopefully can make this, tragedy, not so terrible. I'm going to be honest though and say I'm not ready to link to them on this blog; however, if they work out it will be a tremendous blessing for so many. I have no idea if anyone I know donated money to Marissa's Bunny; but I sincerely hope not. If you did, Mike is saying he will refund your money - but I have small hopes of that happening and am unsure even what part of anything was truth.
I wish there was more I could do, but for now this will suffice for my venting. I have sent emails to a couple websites (a few of them insanely popular) that mentioned or supported Marissa's Bunny as well, just so they know what is happening. Most importantly, I don't want this happening again to any other family. It's just so sad and tragic that someone feels the need to do something like this, for whatever reason.