One year after the death of their son, Aidin, Paul and Cynthia Hannan are doing what they can to make sure that another family doesn’t suffer the same tragedy they did.
On Oct. 3, 2011, 8-year-old Aidin was riding his bike home from a friend’s house when he went over the handlebars and hit his head. As a result of his injuries, Aidin passed away a short time later.
Right away, the family decided to try to make something positive out of the loss.
“We started off by forming Aidin’s Promise to bring awareness to wearing helmets and bicycle safety,” Paul Hannan said. “It was out of our loss that we really wanted to do something to try to make a difference, try to help. We’re not going to be able to save the world, we’re not going to be able to stop all accidents from happening, but we can make a difference and we can do a part. If we can prevent one accident, one tragedy, then it’s all worth it.”
Hannan said that the family takes every opportunity it can to talk to children and their parents and have gotten good feedback. He said that the parents agree that safety is needed, and that it’s about getting the children to realize this also.
“We believe that you need to get the children to understand the importance of safety so they will be a part of it on their own and not have to be constantly told,” he said. “We stress it to the children as much as to the parents.”
One thing they stress is that it only takes one time and one second for an accident to happen.
“It only takes overlooking it or being complacent one time for an accident to happen,” Hannan said.
Hannan said that through the outreach they have done, the family has met other families who have been in similar situations, including some where the children have survived the accident but have had serious injuries.
Everyone grieves different, with some being angry, depressed, resentful, or finding someone to blame. The Hannans are not that way.
“We’ve just tried our best not to do that,” Hannan said. “We know we did everything we possibly could and it’s nobody’s fault. It’s just one of the tragedies of life.”
He added, “We knew that we couldn’t do anything about what had happened. As tragic as it is, and we feel our loss everyday, we can’t do anything about what has already taken place. But we could definitely do something to prevent it from happening in the future, or prevent another family from having to go through the pain and heartache of either losing a child or having a child seriously injured.”
Hannan said that his God has given him a great amount of strength to get through this and has given him the opportunity to share the family’s story.
“Hopefully it will help somebody along the way,” he said. “It’s never easy. It’s a very difficult process the rest of your life. It’s part of our way of trying to share love and joy. I try to say, ‘It’s better to have had him and to have loved him than if we had never had him at all.’ It’s a philosophy.”
In addition to the awareness, the Hannans awarded a $1,000 Aidin’s Promise Scholarship to a student from Somers High School. Hannan said he hopes to be able to continue doing that in Aidin’s name.
According to his father, Aidin was a very compassionate boy who touched many lives. And even after his passing, Aidin is still touching people. His parents donated his organs and eyes, therefore giving life, or a better life, to other children.
“We’re going to meet those children here in the near future,” Hannan said. “That’s kind of exciting in a way. It’s also a little heartbreaking in a way. There again is just another part of where we can’t do anything about what has happened, but out of donating his organs, we were able to save some other children’s lives. We were able to prevent another family from a loss or a future tragedy. We tried to somehow have a positive, happy ending to this story.”
In a way to remember Aidin, Somers Elementary School now has a stained glass piece hanging in a window in its media center. Principal Ralph Riola said that at the time of Aidin’s passing, the class was talking about stained glass in art class. He said that one student thought a window would be a good way to remember Aidin.
Riola said that art teachers Elizabeth McEvoy and Paul Dailey put it to the third grade class – Aidin’s class – to come up with designs that tied into their lost classmate.
The window has some of Aidin’s favorite things, like turtles and fish, and a book because in second grade, he was named the most improved reader and received an award for it. The tree in the window was actually drawn by Aidin before his passing and the “Family” piece was done by his sister.
Riola said that the school raised most of the money for the window and then the Keeney Foundation matched the funds for the balance. Studio K’s Glass Castle in Somers put the window together based on the design the students came up with.
The Hannan family was able to view the window and Paul Hannan feels that the process was a good one for the kids.
“Children will be touched with loss and tragedy throughout their lives and it is important to learn about it and learn about the positive grieving and keeping the memory alive,” he said. “You don’t have to be hush-hush and can talk about Aidin and tell stories and laugh. It’s a very positive and healing process, as opposed to keeping it silent and bottled up.”