EDWARDSVILLE, IL - On Halloween night an estimated 25,000 people will fill the streets of downtown Edwardsville for the annual Halloween parade, but residents of the Goshen Meadows neighborhood hosted the holiday a week early so a young boy scheduled for surgery would not have to miss out.
Four-year-old Sonny Mead loves Halloween. His grandmother, Josie Mead, says it is Sonny's favorite holiday.
"When we found out that they were doing this, we just thought it was absolutely amazing for people to care about somebody we care so much about," she said.
Sonny's family does not live in the Goshen Meadows neighborhood, but when people in that community learned Sonny would have to miss Halloween due to a scheduled surgery, they decided to celebrate early.
"He wasn't going to be able to trick-or-treat, and I just, as a mom, could not let that happen,” said Amanda Richert, a friend of the Mead family.
In February 2015, Sonny was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, a birth defect that causes one or more of the fibrous joints between the bones of the skull to close prematurely before the brain has fully formed. The following month, Sonny had an endoscopic surgery to give his brain more room to grow.
Jackie Mead, Sonny's mom, said over time, the bones that were removed were supposed to rebuild and grow back. This typically happens by age three. However, Sonny's bones never grew back.
On Friday (Oct. 26), Sonny will undergo a cranioplasty where doctors will use bone from a cadaver and a 3D printer to rebuild his skull.
"We want him to be able to play sports and stuff, and not have to worry as much of him getting hit on the head," said Sam Mead, Sonny's dad. Sonny's parents say if the surgery goes well, Sonny should be able to live the life of a typical child.
Richert rallied her friends and neighbors in Goshen Meadows.
"The response was just overwhelming," Richert said.
More than 20 houses agree to welcome the trick-or-treaters a week early.
"He thinks today is Halloween," said Jackie.
Sonny's Halloween began with a fire truck escort to the neighborhood courtesy of the Edwardsville Fire Department. He was greeted by a crowd of family and friends.
As the group made their way from house to house, Sonny's parents and their friends wore t-shirts that read "#SonnyStrong." Sonny was dressed as his favorite superhero.
"We let him pick his costume, and up until today he was going to be Spiderman, and then he decided that he wanted to be Superman because he wants superpowers," said Jackie.
Sonny was met with smiles and treats at each house he visited.
"He's never met a stranger," said Sam. "He's just a fun-loving kid. He brings a lot of joy to our lives."
After surgery Friday, Sonny will be in the hospital for up to a week. He will be in recovery for two to six months.