WOODBURY - An ongoing fundraiser by area businesses has raised over $20,000 for Landen, the 5-year-old Woodbury boy who remains hospitalized after being thrown from a Mall of America balcony earlier this month.
The April 12 crime drew national attention, as did a Gofundme page started by Woodbury resident and friend of the family, Noah Hanneman. Close to $1 million has been raised for the family as of Monday, and local businesses are seeking a boost.
Woodbury realtor Wade Hanson was at home with his family when his wife read him the news circulating on social media: a 24-year-old had allegedly picked up and thrown a boy about 40 feet from a third-floor balcony at the mall.
"It's just one of those things that, I guess, struck a nerve with me," he said. "The Mall of America is a place I've always taken my girls. We've celebrated a lot of birthdays there and have a lot of fun memories there."
Rather than donate to Gofundme, Hanson said he wanted to collaborate locally on raising more money for the family. He called Trace Martin, co-owner of Orange Theory Fitness in Woodbury and Cottage Grove.
"I know Trace has been charitable in the community," Hanson said. "I thought that was a good place to start."
When Hanson called, Martin had just wrapped up plans to offer exercise classes April 20 in exchange for donations to the family via a separate Gofundme. Hanson decided to match donations raised by Orange Theory up to $10,000.
That match created additional buzz on social media, catching the attention of staff at New Hope-based Minnesota Rusco. Owner Jay Deems has offered to match up to an additional $10,000 to the Gofundme page. He's also encouraging businesses to contribute their own matching donations.
"We could just keep the thing going," Deems said. "We just want to help the family with the long-term care that's going to be needed."
With the $10,000 mark reached over the weekend, the businesses' combined efforts have resulted in at least $20,000 for the family. Although Martin is still considering whether to host additional exercise classes, the Orange Theory Fitness Gofundme page will stay open until May 10.
Landen's family has requested privacy, but released a statement through their attorney Friday with an update on Landen's condition.
"Our miracle child is showing real signs of recovery. New test results have been positive, though he remains in intensive care with a long road ahead," read the statement. "Just know that we absolutely feel your overwhelming love, prayers and support, for they seem to be working. Thank you so much, from the bottom of our hearts."
The suspect, Emmanuel Aranda of Minneapolis, has been charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder. He is being held in the Hennepin County jail in lieu of a $2 million bail.
The family's statement also included a mailing address for well-wishers:
Prayers for Landen
PO Box 43516
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443-4200