On Monday, Nov. 5, a week after Superstorm Sandy swept through Redding, Gregory Klimaytis of Redding and his father were in the yard of his Umpawaug Road home cutting a fallen tree when the partially uprooted stump fell back and struck 4-year-old Robby Klimaytis, who was also in the yard.
Mr. Klimaytis called 911 and the West Redding Fire Department rushed to help lift the stump off Robby and pull him out. He was taken to Danbury Hospital and then airlifted to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Because of the lack of oxygen to the brain for 20 to 30 minutes, Robby now suffers from an anoxic brain injury and will need 24-hour home care for the remainder of his life, said Mr. Klimaytis.
“He can breathe on his own but has no purposeful movement,” he said.
On Thursday, Dec. 6, Robby was discharged from the hospital and brought to his home in Somers, Conn.
“He’s doing pretty well. He’s resting comfortably,” said Mr. Klimaytis.
In an effort to help raise money for Robby’s medial expenses, the relatives of Angela Klimaytis of Somers, Robby’s mother, organized a Facebook auction.
Leslie Muska, Ms. Klimaytis’ cousin’s sister-in-law, heard about a 2-year-old boy, Tripp Halstead in Georgia, who suffered a similar accident and how three women created a Facebook auction to raise money.
“When I was on the Team Tripp site, I saw there was an auction they did in October and November. I went through the site to see how they ran that Facebook page and then I quickly called my sister-in-law Jessica Santos. I thought it was a great idea, and we should do it, but I’m Facebook illiterate,” said Ms. Muska.
Ms. Santos helped Ms. Muska create a Facebook page and started posting and getting people they knew to share it with others.
The Auction for Robby Facebook page got linked to Tripp’s Facebook page and gained some followers, said Ms. Muska.
Since the page was created on Nov. 29, more followers have joined the page and word is being spread about Robby.
“Through a lot of phone calls and contacts that Ms. Santos has, we started to get a large amount of donations for the benefit auction,” she said.
The way the auction works is people or companies reach out to Ms. Santos and Ms. Muska and donate their services or product. That is then posted on the Facebook page and people may bid on the item. Auction donations will be accepted until Saturday, Dec. 15. Bidding will continue until Sunday, Dec. 23, at midnight when the auction closes and the highest bidder wins the item, said Ms. Muska.
“We try to post as much information as possible about the company or person donating a gift so people can go to their site and learn more [about them] or buy more merchandise from their site,” she said.
Ms. Muska and Ms. Santos are also planning a benefit dinner in January with raffle prizes and proceeds going to the Robert Lawrence Klimaytis Fund.
“During the benefit dinner, I’m going to making a posting for each company and post it on the wall so people not on Facebook can see all the donors,” she said.
Currently there are 679 people who “like” the Auction for Robby Facebook page. As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 89 items up for auction.
“A lot of people have come to us or I’ve emailed them cold,” said Ms. Muska.
Ms. Santos made a flyer with Robby’s photo and information about his accident, and the auction organizers have been sending it out to raise attention and seek out possible donors.
Most items in the auction up for bid are priced at $40 or higher. The Redding Roadhouse has donated a $50 brunch for two, and Fresco Trattoria in Georgetown donated a $50 gift certificate.
Gian Fontana of Fresco Trattoria is also planning a day in January when a percent of the day’s profits will go to the Robert Lawrence Klimaytis Fund.
Other items up for bid are a family four pack to a Connecticut Whale hockey game in Hartford starting at $75, four Rihanna concert tickets at the XL Center for a total value of $480, two tickets to Disneyland, and two National Football League tickets to the Patriots versus Dolphins game.
Adam Broderick Salon and Spa donated a massage with a value of $72, and the Sycamore Drive-in in Bethel donated a $40 gift certificate.
All auction items up for bid may be found at the Facebook page.
Ms. Muska and Ms. Santos are also receiving items to be raffled at the benefit dinner.
Ms. Muska said raffle tickets would be sold at $20 for each ticket and they hope to sell 1,000 tickets.
“The raffle is currently in the works and will be posted on the site as soon as it’s finalized,” she said.
There is also going to be a separate raffle for a hot tub, said Ms. Muska.
Ms. Muska also said if people are bidding on items to be used as Christmas gifts, they might not get them on time since bidding is closed on Dec. 23.
Robby’s parents both said the support is overwhelming.
“I want to thank everyone at the West Redding Fire Department and EMS, Danbury Hospital and everyone at Connecticut Children’s. They did a great job and he got really good care,” said Mr. Klimaytis.
Ms. Klimaytis said Robby is adjusting well to being home.
“Everyone at CCMC was wonderful, but it’s nice to be in the home environment,” she said.
One of the messages his mother gave Robby is, “There are no strangers, only friends,” she said.
“He loves everyone, he talks to anyone and makes friends with everyone,” she said. “I’m always the optimist, I like to see the best in people, and it’s good to see that people want to show you the best and that humanity is really and truly compassionate.”
Ms. Klimaytis said she is “just thankful.”
“Everyone has taken care of everything else, so all we need to take care of is Robby’s needs,” she said.
Monetary donations may be made to the Robert Lawrence Klimaytis Fund at Rockville Bank, P.O. Box 960, Somers CT 06071.
For more information about the event, visit the “Auction for Robby Klimaytis & Family” Facebook page or email the page administrators, Leslie Muska at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jessica Santos at email@example.com.