Franklin — Even before the doors were opened, hundreds of people had lined up to show their support for Aiden Busch and eat some spaghetti.
"Spaghetti for Aiden," held the evening of Jan. 7 at St. Martin's of Tours Parish, was designed as a fundraiser to help out the Busch family, now that Aiden, 7, is home from the hospital after three surgeries to remove a tumor from his brain stem.
"(During the dinner) my friend, Kathy, who helped me with organizing everything, turned to me and said, 'Michelle, they just keep coming,' " said Michelle Kreuser, Aiden's aunt, who organized the spaghetti dinner.
In total, over 800 people purchased a plate of spaghetti at the event, and between the dinner, raffle, and auctions, the event raised approximately $20,000.
Given that Kreuser was hopeful to hit 500 attendees, the event was far and above more successful than she imagined.
"When I was able to go and tell Aiden that ($20,000 was raised), he was so happy," Kreuser said. "The look on his face was so precious."
Aiden also got to go to the dinner, his first outing since he was released from the hospital and allowed to go home the Tuesday before. Not only was he able to see some of his old teachers, friends, and family again, but see the crowds of people he didn't even know show their support.
"It really helped lift his spirits. ... For me, for Kevin (his father), for Jessica (his mom), for all of us," Kreuser said. "Those are the kinds of things that are going to help Aiden recover from this."
In addition to the support from all of the people who showed up, the family was also overwhelmed by the support they received from local businesses.
Trattoria Di Carlo in Oak Creek provided noodles and sauce for the dinner, and Leah's Italian Restaurant in Muskego donated salad. Other businesses and organizations supported the raffle – like Culver's in Hales Corners donating two prizes of custard for a year. The Milwaukee Bucks, Wave and Brewers also donated prizes.
J&J Contractors of Greendale, which both donated an auction item and bought some, also volunteered to help the Busch family with home modifications, one of the main things the money raised at the event is going toward.
Even up until the day of the event, people were wanting to donate to the cause. Kreuser said that one business came into the church the night before wanting to donate a gift card for the raffle, and Dean Foods called the day of the event, asking if they could donate milk.
"We're very grateful that we had so much outpouring of love and support from our friends, family, and the community," Kresuer said. "It's wonderful that we were able to raise a lot of money, but also good to know that they love and care about my nephew enough to stand out in the cold to show their support for Aiden."