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Monkey in My Chair Program Helps Aiden and Classmates

Updated: December 11, 2018 05:44 PM

Mrs. Nelson's third graders are good kids. When WDIO News was there a couple of weeks ago, they were focused on a math lesson. "Ok, I'm going to have you work on your own for this one," Mrs. Nelson told them.

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Their room was filled with orange. Orange t-shirts, to be exact, that said Aiden's Avengers. All to surprise one of their classmates, who stopped by.

"Almost everybody is wearing the same shirt as me. That surprised me! So we sort of surprised eachother," Aiden told us. 

He's been home most of the school year since his diagnosis of leukemia. Essentia Health came in and explained to his class what was going on. That was a relief for Mrs. Nelson. "When they reached out and said they would do a presentation, I was very thankful. It's a big responsibility to make sure the kids are OK with this," she said.

And with them, came a stuffed monkey! The kids named him Aiden Junior. The Monkey in My Chair program started in 2011, and was inspired by a little girl named Chloe who had cancer.

Now Aiden Junior goes everywhere with Mrs. Nelson's class. "We take him to the music room, and gym," shared Brandice Randa-Sauter, a classmate.

Another friend, Cooper Putkonen, added, "He's really fun to have in the classroom. He helps some kids know that Aiden is still here."

Mrs. Nelson added that it's nice to have the chair filled. "It's not such a sad thing, compared to looking at an empty chair every day."

Aiden's mother, Amber, told us, "It's adorable. The kids love him. It's become more than just holding a seat. It's now a way for kids to cope and love on something, and makes them think of Aiden."

Amber said they try and stop by after chemo visits, which Aiden is responding well to. They have a teacher come to their home to keep him up to date on his schooling. The plan is for him to return to school in the 4th grade.

The Bluestreaks have been very supportive of Aiden, with fundraisers with the orange T-shirts, and collecting money in cans around town.

Aiden feels the love, when he's here, or when Aiden Junior is. "We are grateful and thankful for everything that they've done for us," Amber said.

There's a Burger Bash for Aiden on Thursday, from 11am-6:30pm at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Chisholm. Cost is $9 for adults, and $6 for kids 12 and under.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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