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Organization raises money, donates toys to boy who was found safe after going missing

Posted at 10:16 PM, Dec 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-31 23:22:02-05

An update on the story that captivated people in Acadiana and statewide.

America’s Cajun Navy is raising money for Bryson Thibodeaux, who was found safely after he disappeared Friday, as well as his sister.

The children’s adoptive parents are in jail as of December 31, facing cruelty to juvenile charges. To read more on how this story began, click here.

“This wasn’t an ordinary search and rescue. It turned into more than that,” said the founder of America’s Cajun Navy, John Billiot.

The company has training and equipment which helps law enforcement with search and rescue operations, as well as other emergencies.

Billiot said when he got the call this weekend from the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office about the missing boy, he immediately got his volunteers and equipment together to help out. But he said he never anticipated this situation’s outcome.

“From what I understand, they didn’t have a Christmas, they didn’t have any of that. And [after he was found] I told him bye and I got home about 6:00 on Sunday morning and I just broke down,” he said.

Seeing the conditions the children were living in and having kids of his own, made him want to continue helping them.

America’s Cajun Navy started a toy drive and opened up a Go Fund Me account, raising nearly $7,000 in just one day.

“So in order to get the kids to keep moving forward and to get their minds off the tragedy that happened, I decided that I’m going to go the extra mile and get gifts,” he said.

After the 9-year-old was found safe, Billiot stayed in contact with Bryson and his sister, as well as their new foster parents.

“I think the kids are in the best hands they can be in right now. And these kids slept awesome last night. In the pictures that I’ve been getting, the voice calls and stuff, I know these kids are happy.”

He says once they’ve reached their goal of $7,500, the money raised will go to the foster parents. Billiot will then monitor how the money from the Go Fund Me is being spent.

“That Go Fund Me account is because they’re starting school in a different parish, they have to have uniforms, they have to have school supplies. They have to have a lot of different things, like extracurricular activities. If anybody has kids, they know the cost of kids,” he said.

So he’s loading up the presents, and giving Bryson and his sister a big Christmas to start the new year.

“We’re going to make sure that if the kids do happen to leave there then all the gifts are going to go with them, this money, the whole nine yards. We’re going to make sure that these kids are taken care of no matter what,” said Billiot.

To help the Go Fund Me reach its goal, click here.