Aidan Shea Foundation
To understand our foundation you have to understand the incredibly special boy behind it. Aidan Shea was an amazing Elmhurst boy who was wise beyond his 10 years. Aidan’s short life touched many in ways that mere words will never fully capture. This page attempts to give a fuller picture of who Aidan was from those who knew him best. Click on one of the photos below and learn a little bit more about exactly who Aidan was.
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Aidan LOVED music. He sang all the time, which drove his family a bit crazy. Year round, he belted out songs from his mom's iPod playlist which serves as ever present background music for Team Shea. He also regularly sang the Star Spangled Banner at the top of his lungs. Aidan had RHYTHM. He had awesome dance moves which he showed off to his family all the time. At the Shea brother poolside annual dance contest in Michigan, Aidan's Selena Gomez "Love you Like a Love Song" moves were off the charts. Aidan played drums through private lessons and was proud to join his school band’s percussion section the Fall before he became ill. Even though he loved his instrument, he complained about practice. And checked the clock 8-10 times during his 15 minute daily practice sessions.
Aidan LOVED dogs. At the time that he became ill, the family dog, Macy, was 16. He pet her regularly even though she gave very little response to him because she could no longer see or hear! Although he was kind to Macy, she was not his dream dog. He dreamed of having a German Shepard, which his mom told him would never happen. "We are a small dog family" is something his mom said regularly. Aidan would respond very seriously and with a sigh, "I am a big dog boy trapped in a small dog family." Macy passed away about six months after Aidan. She spent a significant portion of her last months sitting by the stairs and looking up as if she was waiting for Aidan to come down. The Shea family got a new dog in the Spring of 2017, Addie Mae Shea. Aidan’s brother Liam wanted to name the new puppy Aidan. When his mom told him that wasn’t the best idea, he did some of his own research in Aidan’s Greek God book and came up with the idea of naming her Adina, after a Greek Goddess. All the letters of Aidan’s name but in a different order. The family calls her Addie.
Aidan LOVED Under Armour clothing. He wanted to wear it every day. He and his mom reached a compromise position and he was allowed to wear it 2 times per week to school and all weekend so long as he didn't also insist on sleeping in it. He still tried to negotiate additional days in the mornings before school. On a "thankful" tree project that he worked on for Thanksgiving 2015 with his nanny Sarah, his first "leaf" stated that he was thankful for "Under Armour."
Aidan loved reading. He remembered things that he read and learned in excruciating detail. He read an average of 90 minutes per day. Because he loved reading, he spent a lot of time in both the Elmhurst and Jackson School libraries. He often would come into the Jackson School library twirling a bathroom pass, which made Ms. Lewis, the librarian, suspect that his classroom teacher thought he was somewhere else. Aidan enjoyed sharing his love of reading, too. He donated books to the library, discussed books with friends, and shared books with his brothers.>
Aidan loved Greek mythology. He could recite specifics about any Greek God you asked him about. The fall before he became ill, he participated in a presentation in his Reach Language Arts class where he dressed up as his favorite Greek God and addressed his class. He chose Ares, God of War. He absolutely loved it and did a great job. He insulted the mere mortals in the room, waxed on about his problems with his father and used props to tell his myth story. He received a perfect score on the project and was so proud.
Aidan loved all things military. He dreamed of being in the Air Force someday. The August before he became ill, he convinced his mom to redo his room "with his own money" because the room’s transportation theme felt too babyish to him. He chose a camouflage theme and picked fighter plane posters for the walls. He spent $100 of his own money on the project and truly believed that he had covered all the costs himself.
Aidan was an old soul. He was emotional and felt things like his mom did, much more deeply than anyone else in his family. He worked hard to not let his sensitivity affect his daily happiness. And he succeeded. He regularly talked about using things from his happy "toolbox" to help him feel better when something was making him sad.
Aidan loved swimming. He had always loved the water and joining the Tiger Sharks Swim Team was one of his proudest moments. Although he wasn't the faster swimmer and he was constantly in need of a pull up of his shorts, he loved the sport and made great improvements while on the team. He said that swimming made him calm and feel “zen” like! He swam in two meets in his lifetime. He proudly told people that he came in second place in one of those meets. When congratulated, he happily informed them that there were only two people in the race, but at least he didn't DQ (disqualify).
Aidan loved Jackson School. He always talked about how lucky he was to have had such nice teachers each year. Mrs. O’Leary and Ms. Lewis were a constant for him throughout all of his time at Jackson. He loved that Ms. Lewis called him “her best customer.” He also loved Jackson’s Principal Mr. Anderson. Aidan dropped his lunch in the bathroom his first week of first grade. He came out of school and told his mom that his lunch hour had been “terrible” and “great” at the same time. “Terrible” because he dumped his lunch and it splattered on the floor and he didn’t like the looks (or smell) of the hot lunch offering. “Great” because his principal, Mr. Anderson, had brought a crying Aidan into his office and shared his own lunch with him. He said, “I am so lucky to go to such a nice school.”
Aidan LOVED playing outside in the neighborhood. More than any of his brothers, Aidan loved being outside just running around playing war and hide and seek and fun games that we all grew up playing. Nerf guns were his favorite.
Aidan was a very LOUD child. From birth forward. He cried loudly and he played loudly. He was not afraid to yell at other kids who were touching his toys as an infant. It was not surprising to anyone when Aidan picked the drums as his instrument of choice. Aidan's school conferences always included as least one reference to Aidan's volume. He would often walk into a totally quiet classroom after returning from one of his Reach classes and yell loudly, "What's going on in here?" Aidan and his second grade teacher had many talks about how to best "read a room" when he entered it. He listened and seemed to understand but his behavior didn’t change. Being quiet was against his very nature. He wanted to enter a room with a loud proclamation. Always.
Aidan was absent-minded. When he was 8, Aidan’s mom recorded him looking for his pencil for about 2 minutes. It was behind his ear. He lost his glasses at least 3 times per day. Although his family found it frustrating sometimes, he was always so genuinely happy when he found what was lost that it was hard to stay upset with him. Absent mindedness was just in his nature.
Aidan was an avid hand-raiser. At school and at events. The day he became ill, he volunteered to do a reading in front of the entire Sunday session 3-5 grade CCD class. He was the only volunteer. He read, with a microphone, in front of about 150 people. He did a great job and was very proud of himself. He always had his hand up in class and really anytime that people asked for volunteers for anything.
Aidan loved his nanny Sarah. She met him for the first time when he was three days old. She was a third parent to him his entire life. She pushed him to be the best student, brother and person he could be, sometimes even more than his parents did. When Aidan learned that Sarah was having a baby (who was born the month after he died), he said very honestly, "I am really excited but a little nervous. How is this going to change MY life?"
Aidan LOVED to sleep. When he was a baby, he would stand at the base of the stairs and rattle the baby gate while crying when he was ready for his nap. Connor and Aidan were moved into separate rooms when they were about 1 year old because Aidan required hours more sleep per night than Connor did. And because Connor was constantly throwing things over at Aidan in his crib to wake Aidan up. When he was a baby, Aidan refused to sit up for a long time. He would just fall over and lay on the floor happily. He also often fell asleep WHILE in the middle of eating when he was in his high chair. Aidan’s love of sleep manifested itself in a bit of laziness. He almost never picked up his clothes or towel after a shower and he always threw his backpack and shoes on the floor when he walked in the door.
Aidan was incredibly generous. He loved giving gifts to people and spent tons of time thinking about the best options for his brothers for their birthdays and Christmas. He was always trying to send his friends and cousins out the door with whatever toy they had been playing with while visiting the Shea house. He often succeeded. Strangely, Aidan was not a great sharer with his brothers. If he had something, he felt totally empowered to keep it and prevent his brothers from using it. Before he became sick, this had led him to place a large "don't enter without permission" sign on his room door.
Aidan was very compassionate. He sensed when people felt bad about something in a way that was far beyond his years. He not only noticed, he would comment on it and try to help. When his mom was running around in the morning trying to get everyone out the door, he would stop and ask, "Mom, are you okay? You look sad." He was the first kid to approach another who might be hurt on the playground and ask if they needed help. Unless that person was his brother and he had caused the hurt! Then he would just deny his involvement ;). Aidan was always aware when a teammate felt that he or she hadn’t played or competed well and would approach them and high five them or tell them not to worry, that they had done a good job.
Aidan was very funny and always kept his family laughing. He danced around, made faces, told jokes from a book, did amazing imitations and loved when people laughed with him. His brother Liam has taken over Aidan’s role as family jokester since Aidan passed away.
Games & TV
Aidan LOVED playing video games and watching TV. His parents limited his time on both in a way that he was constantly attempting to negotiate. They started setting the stove timer so that there would no longer be questions as to how long he had played. He desperately wanted a WiiU system for his last birthday. When he received it, he was overjoyed. Still, he immediately told his parents that they didn't have to keep it. He was worried it was too expensive. He had heard them say that they hadn’t bought it in the past for that reason many times.
Aidan adored his brothers and was so genuinely proud of them. And his brothers him. When you asked Aidan who his best friends were, he immediately responded with, "my brothers". He then would list people from school. He told his mom once he felt lucky to have "built in" best friends.