Halifax pilot starts fundraiser to get wheelchair for Cape Breton boy
NEW WATERFORD, N.S. -- A Halifax pilot and a Cape Breton boy living with spina bifida have become unlikely friends – and a special Christmas present is now in the works.
Seven-year-old Brett Costigan isn't able to walk, so what he really loves to do is fly.
"He really liked it," said Crystal Costigan, Brett's mother. "He talked about it for a long time. He drew a picture of himself flying with Dimitri."
Crystal is talking about the first time her son took a flight in the private plane owned by Halifax pilot Dimitri Neonakis.
He's taken many kids up in the air through his initiative Dream Wings, but wasn't able to get the little boy out of his mind.
"It hit me hard," said Neonakis. "He was so excited."
Neonakis wanted to take Brett in the air a second time, but didn't know how to reach him, so he put the ask out on social media.
Last Friday, the two unlikely friends were reunited once again to share their love of flying.
"We flew around New Waterford," Neonakis said. "We saw his house, we saw his school. He was excited. He never said a word. His face was stuck on the window."
Brett is paralyzed from the waist down, but that hasn't stopped him from being an upbeat, busy little boy.
"He doesn't think he's different from any other kid," Crystal says. "He tries to do what they do."
While Brett and Dimitri have gotten to know each other at the airport and up in the sky, Dimitri hopes the next time he's able to touch the young boy's life will be when he looks under the tree on Christmas morning.
"Maybe we can see if we can get him a wheelchair, an electric wheelchair," said Neonakis. "Apparently that's his dream."
So he's started a fundraiser online.
As a single mom of six kids, it's something Brett's mother would never be able to afford.
"The wheelchair we have now doesn't move fast enough for him to play with the other kids," said Costigan.
Brett can't use his manual wheelchair because he doesn't have the strength.
"He's such a great boy, he's smiling all the time," said Neonakis. "I thought it could be something that I could at least try."
He's hoping for the best and confident he and Brett will fly together again one day.
"I just want to tell him that we appreciate everything he's done for us," Crystal said. "And thank you very much from the bottom of our heart."
They already have a special bond and -- with a little help – it might also result in a life-changing Christmas present.