More than 200 people at the Palace Theatre helped raise about $10,000 for Baby Easton Friedel and his family Wednesday night.
The event was hosted by Valued Industry Partners, a group of young professionals who teamed up with businesses throughout the Central New York community. Syracuse recording artist "Just Joe" performed live during the event, as community members bid at a large silent auction, featuring items and services like iPads, televisions and Syracuse University basketball tickets.
Most of the hundreds that showed up on Wednesday had never met Baby Easton or his family, merely seeing news reports of the baby's condition. They say they were touched by a cute baby with such a devastating condition.
"He's so little and so innocent, and something so cruel has happened to him," Lillian Knowlton, who bid on several items Wednesday, says.
Not just the community members have been touched either, as the businesses that donated did not need too much convincing to help out.
"It was fairly easy," Daniel Bennett, a family friend and part of Valued Industry Partners, says. "We just walked up to a ton of these local businesses, and as soon as we said 'Easton', they were writing checks or they were asking what they could donate."
While there's definitely been an impact in Central New York, a part of Easton's family's goal is to spread awareness about his disease, Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB, to the rest of the nation. Many in attendance Wednesday night did not know anything about the condition until they heard of Easton.
"Before Baby Easton arrived, I never had heard of the disease and I'm sure many others are like that as well," Jonathan Grutka, another member of Valued Industry Partners, says. "So, I think [the family] is thankful he's had such an impact on such a large scale."
Easton's family was not in attendance on Wednesday, as they were home in Weedsport caring for Baby Easton, who had just gotten back from the hospital after he briefly stopped breathing Sunday night.