‘Be a little Ian’

‘Be a little Ian’

MICHAEL NOVACEK and HEATHER CALLANAN, parents of the late Ian Novacek, point out memories on a bulletin board dedicated to their son. (BREEZE PHOTO BY NICOLE DOTZENROD)
Campaign in Novacek’s memory encourages kindness

NORTH PROVIDENCE – It has been one year since the North Providence community said goodbye to 12-year-old Ian Novacek, but those who knew him say the Ricci Middle School student’s spirit lives on through acts of kindness and love.

“He was so good that his light still shines. There’s literally no dimming it,” said his mother, Heather Callanan, who has channeled her grief into giving back to the community that came together for her late son.

Callanan has had great success raising funds for numerous causes in the name of her son, partnering up with others to raise the needed funds.

This summer, the 55-mile charity Ride for Ian, held at Ocean State Harley Davidson, raised more than $4,000. The money will be divided between Special Olympics of Rhode Island and a special fund set up in Ian’s memory by the Hometown Foundation.

The Hometown Foundation had been particularly influential for Novacek, helping to secure a stair-climber for the North Providence resident, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called achondroplasia and used a wheelchair.

“They changed our lives,” Callanan said about the nonprofit and its signature “Dream Ride” fundraiser.

Through Dream Ride, Ian was able to live his dream of being a K9 officer for the day last summer, practicing giving commands with the K9 Crime Stoppers organization. In his memory, K9CS is now training a Belgian Malinois named “Ian the Warrior.”

A month after Ian’s charity ride on June 29, “the 51st Monday since Ian left,” a friend of Callanan’s said her special needs son had his iPad stolen at a yard sale. He used the iPad to communicate.

“He couldn’t even tell his mother what he wanted for breakfast that morning,” she said. As a result of the Ride for Ian, Callanan was able to purchase a new iPad right away. Soon, the GoFundMe link she had created had enough donations to purchase a new iPad and secure a series of communication apps that cost hundreds of dollars.

“All of the money was raised in less than 12 hours,” Callanan said.

On Ian’s birthday this year, his loved ones started #BeALittleIan Day, encouraging people to perform random acts of kindness in his memory.

“People all over participated and shared his story,” said his mom. “That’s the ripple effect. How could you be more proud?”

In addition to performing little acts of kindness, Callanan and Ian’s father Michael encourage those who want to make a donation to support the Hometown Foundation in Ian’s name.

The fund’s first donation will be to K9 Crime Stoppers, and the second will support Deaf Defy in honor of Ian’s sister Grace.

For the month of August, Callanan is encouraging people to share her Facebook post “Ian: I believe in the power of kindness,” reminding followers to “#bealittleIan.”