Hundreds of dollars stolen from metro Detroit family on vacation at Universal Studios with Make-A-Wish

Posted at 5:36 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 18:20:54-05

(WXYZ) — Donors came together to give a family with a seriously ill child a dream-come-true vacation. Then a thief took not only their money, but their precious time.

Seven-year-old Ryen DeFillippo from Sterling Heights has hydrocephalous and spina bifida. He is preparing to undergo a tough surgery in just a few weeks, so Make-A-Wish Michigan sent him and his family on a dream vacation to Florida.

He and his brothers told 7 Action News on FaceTime as they headed to the airport Monday in Florida, that thanks to the generosity of donors they had a blast making favorite new memories at Disney, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld.

Although, their time making great memories was interrupted by a thief. As they got on the Harry Potter Ride at Universal Studios they say something horrible happened. The attendants told them to leave all their belongings, even mom’s purse, in an area designated for wheelchairs and other special needs equipment.

“I reluctantly took my purse off and put it in that cubby," said Stacy DeFillippo, Ryen's mom. "Right behind that cubby is not a solid wall. Somebody must have reached in and opened my purse and stolen my wallet with everything in it."

The thief took $300 worth of Disney gift cards Stacy got from her work, $500 cash the family brought, and the Make-A -Wish debit card. The family then had to stop the fun and make numerous reports to security, lost and found and police.

The family that has faced tough times is out $800 due to the actions of a thief who had to know by the contents of the wallet, he or she stole from a sick child’s family. The family is now trying to focus on the fact that Make-A-Wish donors did something so great for them.

The organization made sure to cancel the debit card and send some money for food and fun. '

NBC Universal released the following statement about what happened:

We always work closely with our Make-A-Wish families and we are sorry for what this family experienced. Given what happened, we made sure this family had meals and snacks while they were here. We would always cooperate with the police in situations like this in any way we could – including sharing video if it existed.