Bethalto, IL (KSDK) - A southwestern Illinois family is devastated after a fundraiser jar was stolen from a girl with special needs. The jar was collecting donations to help 17 year-old Danielle Smith pay for a trip to the Miss Amazing Pageant Nationals in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Miss Amazing Pageant is a program that gives girls and young women with disabilities the opportunity to build self-confidence in a supportive environment.
Smith, who has autism, was crowned the 2013 Miss Amazing Illinois Teen Queen.
Smith and her family left jars this summer at a number of businesses around Bethalto, Illinois. Danielle's mother, Cyndi, says sometime around July 18th one of the jars was stolen from Geno's 140 Club.
The restaurant manager told NewsChannel 5 the jar was kept near the takeout area and he didn't know how long it had been missing. The manager says the restaurant has surveillance cameras but he wasn't able to catch the thief in the act.
"All I can hope is that this person really needed this money for some reason and did not take it just out of pure hatefulness or greed," said Cyndi Smith.
The Smiths have filed a police report and are hoping the thief returns the money.
The national pageant begins August 28th and the Smiths say they'll keep fundraising to make sure they make it to Omaha.
If you'd like to make a donation you can send it to the family via Paypal.
All you'll need is the family's email address.