Father Creates 'Kids Like AJ' Non-Profit After Boy's Death To Raise Awareness

Nancy Harty
June 25, 2019 - 11:37 am
Andrew Freund

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A father in north suburban Volo hopes a charity he set up after the tragic death of AJ Freund will improve detection of child abuse.

Volo resident Chad Carpenter took his 15-month-old son to visit the growing memorial outside the Freund home in Crystal Lake. Amid the balloons, candles, teddy bears, and more, the boy placed a blue toy car at the memorial site. That is when Carpenter decided to hold a fundraiser for child welfare agencies and create his own non-profit, Kids Like AJ, aimed at raising awareness to end neglect and prevent child abuse.

Chad Carpenter said the goal of Kids Like AJ is to help teachers, law enforcement, and other mandated reporters get even more training in identifying abuse.

"They already have some training, but we want to expand on that training. We want to expand it and get more detailed," he said.

Carpenter does not have a background in child welfare or law enforcement, but said he hopes to hire someone who does.

"We are starting that process now, so that way we can have somebody who is progessionally trained in this industry," he said. 

Carpenter held a fundraiser on Saturday and the turnourt was well below what he expected.

"This is our first one, so that is not going to stop us," he said.

Despite the setback, he said he feels it helped shine a light on groups working to prevent child abuse.

Carpenter attributes the low attendance to skepticism about people trying to profit off the Crystal Lake boy's death.

"The community really needs to come together and we saw a lot of that on social media and we saw it in person at the candle light vigil and we wanted to direct that in a positive way. I really think that happened on Saturday," he said.

Carpenter said he'll continue to work to raise money for the effort - likely at this time next year and maybe at a gala in the winter.