MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Donors have given thousands of dollars and scores of Teddy bears and toy cars to the Alabama boy held hostage for days in an underground bunker until FBI agents shot and killed the captor in a dramatic rescue.
Some of the money raised during a brief online campaign is going to give the child and his rural family a dream trip to Disney World, organizers say.
But thousands more in contributions are being placed into accounts overseen by a lawyer in cooperation with a guardian, both of whom were appointed by a state judge to help care for the boy, Ethan Gilman of Midland City.
Dale County Probate Judge Sharon Michalic said the child's mother approved the arrangement, which Michalic described as typical for cases in which an underage child and money are involved.
"We want to make sure his interests are protected," Michalic said.
Ethan, 6, is back home with his mother, Jennifer Kirkland, after being rescued from the subterranean shelter where he was held by Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65. The child's father is dead.
Authorities said Dykes shot and killed the boy's school bus driver and dragged the child into the rural bunker, where he was held until agents stormed the small structure on Feb. 4, killing Dykes.
Money and gifts started pouring in within hours of the rescue, which occurred two days before Ethan turned 6, and officials say donations continue.
An Internet-based campaign launched within hours of the rescue with the family's approval raised $10,700 to send the boy and his family to Disney World, said organizer Carrie Kreps of Vestavia Hills in suburban Birmingham. The original goal was only $7,000, she said.
"We raised that within one day," Kreps said.
Disney is providing complimentary tickets for Ethan, his mother, his big brother, two grandparents and a victim's assistance worker who helped the family during the ordeal, Kreps said. She said $8,000 from donations will go toward lodging, transportation and food for a week.