Saturday, July 9, 2011

The mystery of the missing iPads—and unrest in the special needs community


There's something brewing in our community. Promises have gone unfulfilled, accusations are flying, curtains are being looked behind. It's troubling, especially in a community that's centered around trust, caring, goodwill and doing good.

I first became aware of this after an email arrived on Wednesday from a woman I've seen on Twitter. She said she'd won an iPad being given away for kids with special needs, on the blog Marissa's Bunny. She never received it, she wrote; she said Mike—the blog owner and Marissa's father—had emailed her to say that he'd received a threatening email and had shut down all operations.

That same day I got a Facebook message from a blogger friend. She'd also been informed that she won an iPad for her child, one of 40 people the blog said had won one. She hadn't received it. It seemed as if there were at least 10 winners who hadn't gotten their iPads.

I knew who Mike was. I've read his posts, I've seen the photos of bright-eyed Marissa, a little girl suffering from infantile spasms, and once, a distressing video of her having a seizure. I've emailed with Mike and mentioned the iPad giveaways when he asked me to. It seemed like an awesome thing; iPads and speech apps have been a godsend for kids who have challenges verbalizing words. Last Thursday, I got the following email:

"Good afternoon.

We've been in contact with law enforcement in regards to the threats and they consider the email to be a blackmail attempt and a legitimate threat to the safety of my entire family. Given their advice and that of our lawyers, we've been advised to not ship any more iPads until the nature of the threats has been identified and resolved.

The person or people who sent the threatening emails has our home address, has all of our personal information, and that of the rest of my family as well. Protecting my family has to be my first priority. Currently, there are people working in conjunction with UPS to determine what's already happened and how we need to move forward.

Some of you have been very supportive during this difficult time and we're very grateful. Some of you haven't, and that's completely understandable and we certainly hold no ill will. From both sides of the issue, this has been a troubling time.

I'll be in touch.—Mike"
As someone who'd interacted with Mike by email, as someone who had read about his little girl and her condition, I was concerned. You feel for the parents you meet in Special Needs World. You get what they are going through. You cheer on their children and worry when they are ailing. You want to help.

People have definitely helped. There was a ChipIn! widget on Marissa's Bunny to raise funds for care and surgery she needed, and mentions of Mike's bosses matching money raised. Mike wrote about starting a foundation to provide for kids with special needs, to which people could also contribute. I gave money a couple of months later. There was no way to vouch for the family, no proof of how funds would be used; I trusted, and felt compelled to help. A ChipIn! widget on Marissa's Bunny says $29,851.24 was raised.

Earlier today, I asked Mike what he wanted to say to the community. I said that I would be glad to speak with a parent who has received an iPad. Mike said he was working on getting his bosses to chat with me. He emailed this statement several hours later:


"When we selected the final 40 awardees back on March 21st from a pool of 311 applicants and provided them to the selection committee, we had no idea that all the finalists would be awarded at that time. We were originally expecting 5, then 10, then 20, then finally 35. During the determination of the awardees, the entire selection committee was so touched by everybody's stories, they decided to tell me in early May that they would award all 40 finalists the ipads and applications. The winners were publicly announced on May 11th. Through the rest of May and through June 22nd we collected iPad application lists to pre-purchase for the winners, and other than some surmountable legal issues we were informed all was proceeding reasonably smoothly.

Through all the escalations of awards, this has proven to be a monumental task, much more than anybody expected initially and we probably didn't have adequate consistent manpower available. We live in Northern Virginia and I telecommute to North Carolina. Application purchase, box packing, and shipping of the iPads with accessories was supposed to have been handled at the North Carolina location. We've recently discovered that many mistakes were made by a variety of employees and not reported to us even after we became directly involved with the principals. We were informed the iPads had shipped, and given our family's ongoing health concerns, perhaps we didn't supervise the situation as well as we could have. On the night of July 6th, we received an anonymous threatening email related to the giveaway and promptly informed the awardees of the email.

After consultation with law enforcement and legal representation, the decision was made to temporarily halt the iPad shipping process based on the threat. Since then, we have received some information as to the origin and nature of the threat and it has been provided to members of law enforcement. While we haven't been supplied a timetable, as soon as the threat evaluation is complete we fully intend to closely and in person supervise future shipping of the iPads to the awardees as long as they had no involvement in the threats. Verifiable tracking information omitting awardees' personal information will be provided to any interested party during the shipping process. When the evaluation is complete and shipping recommences, an announcement will be made at Marissa's Bunny.

While my goal has always been to help the special needs community, I'd be remiss in my duties as a husband and a Father to not take care of my own family's safety first due to the still unclear nature of the threat at the time of this post. That said, we remain committed to the cause, and anxiously await reports in the not too distant future of iPads arriving and photos of their first use."

So, that's where things stand. There are disappointed, disgruntled and just plain pissed-off parents out there who are dubious they will get their iPads for their children. There are lots of questions and no resolution yet. Speculation isn't going to do any good.

Tonight, I'm hoping parents get those iPads for their kids. I'm thinking of Marissa. And I'm hoping that nothing ruptures the trust and incredible support system we have built as parents of kids with special needs.

UPDATE: The following is an email sent by The Marissa's Bunny Foundation at 7:39 p.m. ET on July 11:

"There are no longer any iPads. I've never had access to the matching funds I've been promised. Something along the way changed and I'm getting hung out to dry by my bosses.

As to my obliqueness about my bosses and the company I work for, If their identities ever got out, long ago they promised I'd lose my job, my insurance, and take us for everything we have making Marissa's surgery impossible to afford. If I keep my mouth shut and the fact that I got screwed never gets out in any way then I keep my job, and my insurance, and they've promised to pay for Marissa's surgery after we give everything we can.

My reputation is now screwed with the SN community but I have to be able to give Marissa the best chance for as close to normal as possible and will happily work under whatever conditions I need to. I'll dance with the Devil if it gets Marissa what she needs.

We're not going to fundraise any more. There won't be any more giveaways on Marissasbunny for special needs or otherwise. I'm still going to update with Marissa's surgical preps and that kind of thing, but that's all. Marissasbunny is going back to what it was before they got involved, back when many of you started reading. No more promotions, just Marissa and her brother's story.

There are the first words that are my own and not through a corporate lawyer since Thursday.

Regretfully,
-Mike"

UPDATE #2: Tonight, 7/12, Mike emailed four photos of a woman, Kelly G, and her son with an iPad. Today, Mike said, they received an iPad he purchased for them. This is one of the photos; all of them can be found on his blog.

[Photo removed at subject's request]

UPDATE #3 (aka War and Peace 2.0): This evening, 7/13, I received an email from Kelly G, asking that I take down the photo of her with her son. I did. She said that today she returned the iPad to Mike. As she wrote, "I wish I would have spent more time thinking about everything and everyone involved."

219 comments:

  1. That's horrible. All the way around. The community we share can rise up when needed based on all the values you listed. When those same values and integrities get called into question, it's a mad scatter for "sides". In the end, I hope everyone fares well, is safe, and feels satisfied.

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  2. I know someone who had supposedly won one. She said that part of the community now is thinking he had made up the whole thing. So sad :(

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  3. This whole thing is a big mess. I know three families who are supposed to get an ipad from him and are waiting. I hope it clears up. Right now it's not looking good.

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  4. I don't understand why people are making such a big fuss. It's not like he has an obligation to give people free iPads. If you're that desperate for one and can't be bothered waiting, buy it yourself like most other people do.

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  5. Thank you for bringing this out into the open. I have heard rumblings about this from several of the blogs that that I follow but no one was saying anything specific.

    I don't understand the anger either, but I suppose, considering the confusing situation that emotions are taking over.

    Ipad's are pricey things and I know a lot of families simply can't afford one with all the costs that come with having a child with special needs.
    They're also amazing and can open up entire new worlds for special needs children and their families.

    I am saving up for one myself to help with university studies which will completely change my life so I can understand that there a people who are depending on Mike to deliver his promise.

    I think it's a horrible situation for everyone involved and I hope that everything gets sorted out soon.

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  6. SOme of these comments are a bit harsh. OF COURSE people who were promised something have a right to be angry or upset. Most of us can't afford to just go and get an ipad and we thought this was the answer to our dreams. I was skeptical from the start but I was still hopeful

    He was NOT obligated to give anyone anything for free but he made promises that he didn't have to make. Here is what troubles me - much of his fund-raising was based on the fact that people thought he was giving back to the special needs community. My therapist ordered a bunny from him (and paid him)because she admired what he was doing. that bunny never arrived either and it has been about three months. EVery time she emails she gets a new reason why it hasn't happened. I didn't lose anything because my entry was free - I just gained a little disappointment - but my son's therapist lost money. How many others did too?

    I am hoping that this is all a big mess that will work out in the end. It is true that he gains nothing by scamming us since we didn't give him any money. I would like to believe he is just a regular guy who got overwhelmed and stuck in a bad situation. And threats to him and his family are never ok.


    He said in one of his emails that 7 ipads were delivered. Did any of you readers out there get one? I checked all the blogs on his list of winners and no one mentioned getting one. Again, I hope he is an honest man who had the best of intentions. I wish him and his family all the best. but on the anonymous internet, you never know.

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  7. I think the discord stems from a sense of disappointment, but also a feeling of potentially being scammed. Giving someone your personal information, spending hours building an app list, telling your blog readers and friends about it, asking your therapists for letters of need...all build up your emotional investment. This was more involved than the typical blog giveaway, where you simply leave a comment. Then there is the money factor for those who donated. In much the same way I felt violated after my GPS was stolen out of my car in my own driveway, there is a sense of violation here, which can easily turn to anger when you factor in the frustration by feeling potentially scammed by someone within our own special needs community. It makes you doubt everyone, which is a very uncomfortable feeling. For many of us, the special needs blogosphere is a large part of our support system, and when you start questioning all of that...well, it's disconcerting.

    Could I buy my kid an iPad? Yes, thankfully. But that is NOT the point. The loss of trust is the point, for me. It's just sad. All I want at this point is to hear from ONE family who has an iPad from this giveaway, which shouldn't be hard given he claims 15 families have them. But that has yet to happen. Anyone?

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  8. I am overwhelmed, stuck in a bad situation, and have been lied to about a great many things involving this whole process. The same people responsible for the labor on the ipads are the people who were responsible the bunny mailing. We're still trying to resolve what lies I've been told about this whole process. Some time ago, I took down the bunny purchase links, and the donation links I removed last week until this is all resolved.

    As far as personal info goes, I don't have SSNs, never asked for them, and won't. If any of you gave money during the foundation fundraising (after Jan 1) and want it back, just let me know.

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  9. His emails are clear to me. he didn't monitor the original dispatch closely enough and once the legal fuss has dies down he will finish the job himself. His priority is and always will be his family. Cudos. As as been said, no money has been paid and this isn't a business transaction.
    The winners should give the guy some breathing space.

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  10. Mike, post a picture of the stack of unmailed iPads. Give us a name of someone who has their iPad. That's all we ask.

    Plenty of damage can be done with just an address. You wouldn't want your address in the hands of someone you no longer trust, would you?

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  11. Taking a picture of the unshipped iPads seems like a simple way to rebuild some trust here. Mike, if you wanted to send a picture of the unshipped iPads, I'd gladly update this post.

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  12. Mike,

    Could you please list those that have won and received their iPad? The lack of transparency is confusing and the fact that no one has come forward to say they have received their package is concerning.

    For those not involved, this ride for the winners has been a roller coaster. Delay and issue, one after another. For months. A lot of emotional investment because for many of us, an iPad would be a game changer for our kids. My heart is holding out hope and my brain is suspicious.

    Threats are bad, no doubt -- but producing what he promised probably would have quieted whomever sent the email, and quickly put them in their place!

    If we could know, for sure, there was no iPad coming.... Many of us, I think, could get closure and move on. Anger would subside. But it's this up and down ride he's taking us on that is so hard. At least for me.

    Oh, yeah, and having my son's heart and spirit broken. That sucks too.

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  13. This is very interesting. I periodically check the search terms that bring people to our blog, and yesterday there were two that said "Marissa's Bunny iPad not received."

    That led readers to this post ...

    http://joetremblay.com/2011/06/13/cross-your-fingers/

    ... about a second round of giveaways that we are (were?) hopeful about. Mike indicated by email to me that we were so close to qualifying for the original giveaway, so we felt like we were a sure thing for this new one.

    I have read Mike's cryptic blog post, but I was willing to put it out of my mind and give him some time until seeing how other families are getting so agitated. I guess I am still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until further info emerges. I hope that doesn't turn out to be a bad idea.

    The comments here seem to indicate that he'd have gained nothing by duping everyone -- that's not exactly true. The directions for applying for the second round of giveaways include donating on his "Chip-In" widget to cover administrative costs. There was also a raffle to fund the second shipment. We did both the donation and the raffle, leading to only about $15 loss, which is no big whoop if it does somebody some good. But if it doesn't ...?

    I choose to trust Mike until given a firm reason not to. It's possible that *he's* been scammed by the people he's trusted to take care of the details. I'm not willing to round up a torch-wielding mob just yet, when we still have reason to believe he's doing a great thing and just ran into some obstacles.

    P.S. I think the "Just buy one yourself" advice was thoughtless and crude. It comes as a shock to more fortunate segments of the population, but not every family has $700+ just lying around, ready for a visit to the Apple store. That's sort of why these giveaways exist.

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  14. Obviously Mike got caught up in something that he didn't quite have control over and now doesn't know what to do. His response is to be vague and assert victim status. My guess is that a great deal of anger can be suffused by the following:

    1. Picture of I-pads
    2. Stopping the vague references to "being lied to." DETAIL exactly what was said to you, by whom, when, and what the situation is now concerning those statements.
    3. Provide a copy of the police report that was filed.

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  15. Reports of iPad deliveries were given to me by the people responsible for shipping. My bosses and I are still working out the truth from the lies we've all been told about ship dates, quantities shipped, and arrivals. And as soon as I have verifiable truth about any of this, I guarantee you I'll share it with you all. I do know that the primary individual responsible for the lies is no longer working for the company as of Saturday. We've been provided a great deal of conflicting information by all of the people involved with shipping, and we have no idea what to believe at this time. As far as transparency goes, I did mention I was going to personally supervise the mailings after the investigation is complete. Photo documentation will be provided following investigation completion to all people who request it.

    This has been an intensely emotional ride for us as well. Our trust has also been violated, and our personal information has been widely spread and I wish that on nobody. I understand the roller coaster you've all been on. If at any point you want nothing more to do with this, let me know and I'll take you off the list. Regardless of threats, it's still our intent for you all to receive the iPads if you still want them.

    This has proven to be more than one person can handle. I am working on getting more dedicated help.

    Joe- I'll be happy to refund your $15 if you want it back.

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  16. Joe- I'll be happy to refund your $15 if you want it back.

    Joe is 3 years old; he doesn't want anything back, and neither do I.

    As I said in the rest of my post, I'm trusting you until given a firm reason not to. It would suck to have been taken for a ride on this whole thing, but it would suck more to realize I had harshly judged a guy who was truly trying to do something kind.

    I still believe that you're doing something good, and you're just struggling with some unexpected obstacles. (Don't prove me wrong -- I hate being wrong!)

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  17. This is Joyce, Thank you for helping to make some sense of this. I too have been loosely following cryptic messages on others blogs and FB posts referencing this. I must say that as someone who has spent my entire career in non-profit management, these types of situations always make the hair on my neck stand on end. This one just did not pass the smell test to me from the beginning, but when items of great value are involved such as iPads, perspective often gets clouded. Especially when they can be so helpful to our community. I'm not sure I understand where the threats come in? Is it someone who wasn't selected or someone who was and is demanding their iPad? or is it a scam of sending people to the blog so more dollars are added to the "chip-in?" And who is "the boss" that is so often referenced? Many unanswered questions. I sure hope this gets worked out satisfactorily.

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  18. My son is also one of the ones that was "awarded" an iPad. It was a true blessing because we literally have no other way to purchase one for ourselves. I sent people to the blog to donate too.

    As others have stated, the anger comes from having been strung along....I have entire file of emails from ike stating that the iPads have been shipped. Also emails just saying, I don't care what the motice is - just tell me if they exist or not so we can move on. Once again, we are stuck in some kind of limbo.

    In our case, this has affected some of my son's treatment plan! We travel 300 miles for therapy services. He was getting Augmentative Communication therapy @ Rehab Institute of Chicago. We had originally decided to order something like a Dynavox computer for Christopher ($4000 - $10,000 depending on accessories). Now that would have been covered by insurance and would have taken the entire year limit for DME purchases. About that time we found that we were awarded the iPad. Our therapists were thrilled, because it was more versitile than a straight communication device. We made weekly appointments through out the summer.

    Every week, we would have to show up empty handed. Every week, our therapists were getting more and more frustrated - we were taking up appointments times for people who actually HAD devices to use. After last week when we had been told the iPads were mailed, then they weren't etc., our therapists said come back when you have the tools for therapy.

    We are now at the bottom of a two year waiting list. So, even if it were to show up tomorrow - my son misses out.

    Not to mention, now we have to make a decision whether to cancel the order for the stander and gait trainer that we ordered, or decide to get a communication device.

    I also have a bunch of therapists who think I am some liar, stinging them along. Mad? you bet!

    This isn't about just winning the iPad. We are greateful that we were picked - IF, IF, IF it is real! I have asked Mike SEVERAL times if we should just cut our losses & move one. THe response I get never answers the question. It is always let me check with the bosses, or the lawyers, etc, etc.

    Erin - I think your comment was totally out of line and just adds insult to injury in this situation.

    I really HOPE that Mike and his "bosses" can get their act together on this. Joyce - You are absolutely right. I have spent my entire working career in one Non-profit or another, and that aspect of this mess is frightening too.

    Mike- I know your "bosses" wanted to hid in the background on this, but they need to accept some of the responsibility if they were to be supervising this too. This is their reputation on the line as well as yours. If they can't handle shipping out 40 items, how do they run a business effectively? These are the questions somebody is going to ask themselves before getting involved with ANY aspect business/foundation/ or otherwise.

    Somebody just tell the truth here, and prove it! If you don't have them an this was a scam, be a man and admit that. I'll pray for you & your family and we'll move on. If not, quit stinging us along. You have the 40 winners contact information. Call them and ask if they received them. If not your employee ripped you off. You are making this way more difficult that it needs to be - for ALL of us.

    Stephanie

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  19. Stephanie- I've said in emails, here twice, and in an email to you separately that as soon as this gets resolved, that everybody is going to get their iPads as long as there's no involvement in the threats!

    As I said above, we did have issues with employees and supervision and I accept that. My bosses are accepting responsibility, have fired one of the responsible parties, and are helping with the resolution as quickly as we can possibly proceed.

    I've already apologized to you in an email, I am very sorry how this has worked out for you. I understand everybody wants a quick resolution to this all, and so do I! Now that lawyers and law enforcement is involved, it's not so simple anymore, if it ever was in the first place.

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  20. To Marissa's dad. Why are lawyers involved in this? You are speaking in broad general terms. Unfornately you have created a situation that is stringing people along that do not have the time or the patience of being strung along. Your lawyers need to issue an official document that details what is transpiring here. And who are the bosses?

    You say you do not have time for this and are focusing on your family, yet you have been monitoring this blog post all day long. What is going on?

    I obviously have no vested interest in this. I have not donated one dime to you. I have not applied for an iPad.

    What makes this an unfortunate situation is it has us stopping to think twice before donating to families that are deserving of our assistance. I'm not saying you are not deserving, I'm just saying that the more time that goes on with no concrete answers the more skeptical we all become.

    If you need legitiamte help, ask for it. We are a helping group of people. Just stop dragging this on with families I care about deeply.

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  21. If you really want to know if there is a legitimate police investigation, you could just call up the police department in the area in which he lives and make an inquiry as to whether or not there is in fact an ongoing investigation, shouldn't that work? They will not give you any details, but at least that way you can know if he is being honest. Just an idea. Erin, that comment was a bit rude, and that's coming from a guy who has admittedly made a snide comment or two....

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  22. Head on over to

    https://sites.google.com/site/bustedyourbunny/home

    for a summary of some of the information that is available about Mike/Biff Lugnut. All of this information is public, and was culled from the internet. We are in no way a threat to Mike's family. We are very concerned about any children he may have. Rest assured, our ONLY objective is to get to the bottom of this scandal so that the affected individuals can move on. We have not threatened anything but legal action. We have not released any private information.

    We have also offered to turn ourselves in to the authorities. We are waiting on Mike to tell us the name of the detective that has been assigned to the investigation so that we may contact that person immediately. We would love to cooperate with law enforcement. Mike - if you're reading - please give us the name of the detective and/or the contact information for the department you're working with. We'd be happy to call right away and reveal all.


    We'd also love to hear from anyone who has received anything from one of Mike/Biff's many, many "giveaways." If you have received an iPad, or anything from this man - please contact us immediately. We'd love to be wrong about this.

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  23. Mike, if you truly had lawyers, they would tell you to stop commenting on this altogether. If you truly had your company behind you, they would issue a formal statement of support and explanation.
    You have neither. Your lies continue. The only "threat" made was one to turn you in to law enforcement for fraud, $29,000 later.

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  24. Mike -


    I understand you have said all of those things. The problem is - nothing is being PROVEN yet. You have to look at it from OUR perspective. How are we to belive that all of this is happening, just because you SAY so?

    I emailed you last night talking about the frustration and the violation of trust. This was the first response that I have had from that.

    I don't think somebody else's blog is the place to hash this out, but I have nothing to hide. We have given you everything you have asked for. We have invested our time, patience, for some - money, plans for our children's therapy and education into this.

    I have said before, if this iPad shows up to all 40 of the original "winners", I will be HAPPY - MORE THAN HAPPY - to shout it everywhere and take out a full page apology add somewhere. Right now, it is just talk.

    I'm sorry Mike, but proof is in the pudding so to speak. I KNOW what you are saying - but I also know we're still waiting.

    As for the threat, I think you have that one narrowed down pretty much. THose folks have offered to go talk to th what ever authority you designate and they have heard nothing from you. I hope you (or your lawyers) realize, it just makes the hold up of the delivery look like another in a long line of excuses. The kids are the ones paying right now.

    Steph

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  25. JEllen - I've never said that I didn't have time for this. I'm sitting in the den on this Sunday afternoon and responding to my email subscription to the comments in the thread. In fact, I issued the statement that had been heavily vetted by lawyers to start this dialog with the community here. What I have said is the safety of my family is of primary importance, but that's not mutually exclusive with talking about it. I have also stated that I am committed to the cause despite the blackmail, and I remain so. People are forming opinions without knowing all the facts. The SN Avenger has publicized where I live. Where we go to church. Marissa's Godfather. Would you feel safe?

    I do need help, and I have said so. We're not sure what we specifically need yet but I guarantee I'll be asking for help. One of the awardees is not that far away from where the shipments are made, and she'll be assisting, supervising, documenting, or whatever she wants to do as soon as we get started again.

    So everybody knows, I've emailed Stephanie and offered to talk to her therapists and explain the situation. She's accepted my offer, but we both agree it may not make much of a difference.

    Finding Normal- I'm only commenting because they told me I should. The $29,000 that you mention was raised last year for Marissa's surgery mostly by friends and family. Fundraising after January 1 is for the Foundation. As I've said, if anybody wants a refund of what they've donated, they just need to let me know. I never asked any of the awardees for any money, ever. It is true that the second giveaway was asking for $5 for a processing fee, and all 22 applicants have been emailed to ask if they want their money back. Most have asked me to not send it back. As I've stated, I'll happily reimburse anybody who donated if they ask.

    SN Avenger- I received no email from you in regards to wanting to give yourself up, but they do have your email address and when they decide to contact you, I have faith that you'll talk to them in good faith. There are verifiable winners of contests, and if you were really looking in the interest of finding the truth and not with a vendetta for some reason, you'd know them already. Most of our traffic isn't special needs traffic- it's less than 3.5% of our total hits, even including the recent rash of linked posts and your site scraping. If you continued your google research from some of the posts you linked, you'd find verifiable winners.

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  26. My niece is one of the final "recipients" in the iPad giveaway. There have been many, many emails from Mike and most of them requested donations from my sister to speed the process along, to enable additional giveaways, and more general appeals to assist Mike's family. Mike now has phone number, address, full name, physician's name and address and other personal information for my 12 year old niece. That was all part of the application process. In addition, my sister has spent many hours compiling the required application list. Yes this is a giveaway but it has certainly not been at no cost to the applicants who have all likely spent as much time and effort gathering and providing information to Mike. If this is a scam, it is very elaborate. I hope it is not.

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  27. Like many people here, I have been wondering what is going on with this issue. It saddens me that this potentially could be a big scam. What I would like to believe is that this father got in over his head...maybe he initially needed money, and the blog is good, and then found out just how much money could be made...I really hope that the money he made also went to the other kids he mentioned in his blog who needed it.

    I am curious about this "foundation" that is being formed. As someone who works in the non-profit world, I understand how these things work. You don't necessarily need to raise a huge amount of money to form a foundation. You create the "foundation" and then you can start raising money for it as well. This way people can get tax write offs for their donations. Who doesn't like a tax write off? I would think that Mike's "bosses," being very financially savvy (or so I would assume since they are very rich) would understand the importance of having a tax write off.

    I think Mike should let SN Avenger know the detective's contact information. Whether or not he received that email from this person (and I saw the email on the bustedyourbunny website mentioned above), the fact is that SN Avenger has publicly asked you here again to give you the information...what is the problem with just doing it? Detectives are smart people, let the detective get to the bottom of it. If all of the information is publicly searchable anyway, then, Mike, watch what you put out there on the internet.

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  28. I don't have a dog in this fight, not directly anyway, but some of the people who stand to be hurt here are folks with whom I've spoken with and tried to advise in the past. And I think that as a community, we've all got a stake in how this shakes out.

    The thing that I (and presumedly others) would love to see is a great deal more transparency from all the parties involved. Honestly, I feel like Mike is being evasive and needlessly opaque. ("There are verifiable winners of contests, and if you were really looking in the interest of finding the truth and not with a vendetta for some reason, you'd know them already. [...] If you continued your google research from some of the posts you linked, you'd find verifiable winners.")

    At the same time, I find the anonymous but tenacious nature of the SN Avenger site to be troubling. It makes me wonder how much of Mike's lack of transparency stems not from dishonesty but simply feeling backed into a corner.

    We've all heard plenty about "reasonable doubt" lately. I'll be watching this situation closely in the coming days, and I hope some of those doubts on both sides will be cleared up soon. I hate watching the parents of kids like all of ours feel like they've been taken advantage of, and I'm saddened by the thought that their hope and trust may have been betrayed. I really hope that's not what's happening here.

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  29. I'm not a master investigator by any means, but just did a simple search on www.irs.gov under Charities and Non-Profits. Marissa's Bunny is not listed.

    Mike said in an email last week that he would be posting pictures of winners with their iPads and publishing their thank you notes shortly. Where are those pictures? That would be a very simple way to answer some questions. Oh, let me guess, his former colleague was in charge of those pictures, too?

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  30. Just FYI - Mike is correct. We just had an e-mail convo about contacting my son's therapists.

    I am going to play devil's advocate here for a minute too.....Many of the parent's of the children who were awarded had agreed to hold off posting on this until we had some answers. This blog is not the first to post on the situation, but I for one, fell a bit like ANY control of the situation has been taken out of my hands.

    two of the three blog posts I have seen were from people, however well intended, who did NOT have children involved in the situation. Yes, you might have sent people to the blog, but THEY chose to donate. They can't hold you responsible, and you should NOT feel guilty over it.

    However, if the investigations pan out and vindicate Mike - by putting this out there before everything is done, we have all just played a part in shutting down Marissa's Bunny. The difference is having your rep ruined with 40 sets of PO'd parents vs the entire blog-osphere.

    Even if these get delivered and things are straightened out - nobody is going to donate to this foundation or any that Mike or his people are attached to again! Guilt by association.

    For the rest of you blogging, please THINK about what you are putting out there before you do it! I don't know if putting this out there will open up any of these bloggers to any issues after the investigation is done, but frankly I am not going chance it until we have some things confirmed.

    Stephanie

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  31. I choose to believe mike. I have been reading his blog since my daughter was diagnosed. You could not make up the stuff that he has written. He is far too much in the public eye to be scamming people. I also think he is way too busy with his family to be dealing with this kind of public grief.

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  32. I like mysteries and trying to unravel them, but this one is maddening and sad. I don't have any dog in this fight at all (no donations to the site, no request for or promised Ipad, and am only a professional working with special needs children, not a parents of one).

    However, I thought months ago that people were being duped. I considered leaving a comment on Mike's site when he started asking for donations for "Joseph", and talking about matching donations from the "Silent Business Partner" (kind of amazing boss, this guy Mike has). It never sounded legit to me then, and it doesn't now.

    Mike should just come clean. He doesn't have a foundation, there is no SBP, there is no Joseph, and there are no Ipads. What there are, are a lot of hurt, angry people, and one father, who does have a sick little girl, who illicitly collected money for her care, under the guise of something else.

    To all those who sent all kinds of personal, identifying information to this man, and to those many, many who probably kicked in small donations (that have really added up), I am sorry. I hope that your kids do get Ipads one day...I just don't think you'll ever see them from Mike.

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  33. I have been following this comment thread with interest. Here is something I found on the busted your bunny site. Apparently snavenger had posted something else that was deleted from the site

    https://sites.google.com/site/bustedyourbunny/rebuttal/response-to-comments-made-on-lovethatmax-blog-7-10-2011

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  34. SN Avenger's received some proof of legitimacy of Marissasbunny giveaways recently as per a CCed email I just received from her.

    Thanks to everybody who's had hopeful words, even if you're concerned. I've always said "wait and see" and while I acknowledge that this process is taking a long time, I'd like to get it going again as soon as possible and get everybody what they need for their kids.

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  35. I am glad I did not sign up for the give-away and I seldom sign up for any give aways from bloggers because there is no way to really know who these people are. It's a shame to feel that way but I hardly even trust neighbors I see in person let alone online strangers.

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  36. Regardless of the outcome, the promises and delays have caused great heartache and more than a little stress for my family members who have little time to give away after care giving, school, work, numerous doctor's appointments, etc. etc. etc. Receiving emails, sometimes twice a week or more, has rekindled the hope and anticipation and forced us to tamp down the doubt and skepticism week after week. At this juncture a personal email of apology is what we hope for and, frankly, all we expect to receive. And we have learned a valuable lesson. As an aside, Apple's prohibition against using iProducts as giveaways, lost leaders and bait and switch fodder is well known and well-publicized. Pleading ignorance of that policy doesn't fly.

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  39. Even though I rarely comment, I am ALWAYS reading this blog as well as those of parents who have children with Down syndrome. It is a field I hope to be fortunate enough to work in one day. I truly wish there was something I could do right now to help regarding this situation. All I can do is hope this gets resolved, and agree with Robert that there should be a great more transparency than there currently is. I think that appears to be why people are suspicious & hurt-there has been so much build-up, so many emails sent explaining what was going on, but emails that seem suspicious and/ or lacking specific details. (Not to mention no proof of the iPads' existence.) I do not think any of us can really know & if I was a winner, I would simply assume an ipad is not coming (or at least for not awhile) & not count that as one of the eggs in my basket. That way, if they do get their ipads it will be a happy pleasure & if not, there will be other therapies or devices already in place. Unfortunately, this is not as easy to do- so much is not covered by insurance or the state.

    I also agree with Joyce when she says that there are a LOT of families invested in this (whether emotionally, financially, or otherwise) who a lot of us "know" & care deeply about. I truly hope this works out for everyone.

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  40. Ellen & Community,

    I feel so sad reading about this puzzling, painful situation. I pray positive resolution comes soon. I feel awful for you, Ellen, & for anyone else who has been scathed. I think I posted re: winning the Holy Grail (I mean the iPad), as I'm certain Leo would benefit from one; I cannot possibly afford one (I don't even own a cell phone). I didn't expect to win, which appears to have been a good move...My Heart hopes everyone who has been promised an iPad receives one soon, & that even a few people who did *not* attempt to win one receive surprise technology!

    Ellen, you are beautiful & brave...

    The anger needs adult discussion/resolution, sans threats - may it clothe itself in trust & compassion...
    I wish I weren't exhausted & could write more meaningful words...
    PeaceLove&Smiles, CherylFaith (Leo's Mommy)

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  41. It strikes me as odd that no one has commented on SN Avenger's lack of transparency.

    I believe I addressed that. But while I'm not particularly happy with the "blood in the water" tone and anonymity of SN Avenger's site, the fact remains that Mike's lack of transparency is by far the more troubling here.

    I hope Mike will be able to step up and put all this to rest, convincingly and soon.

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  42. This is Joyce. And for full disclosure I also leave comments under JEllen(no relation to the Ellen hosting this discussion)rather the name of the store I manage to employ young adults with disabilities.

    Mike, this message is for you. I wish I could leave this on your own blog but you seem to have shut down your comments and are using this blog today to speak.

    I have spent a good deal of my afternoon becoming more familiar with this story. Why? Because a lot of my blogging friends have become embroiled in this controversy. It is has them at their wits end. They are spending way too much time trying to figure out if this is for real or if it is a scam. And their kids want the iPads promised to them.

    Is this a scam? I don't know. As I have stated before, I have no direct connection to this situation. We do not need an iPad. My daughter is 22. I’ve been in this world for a longer time than most of your followers. That does not make me any smarter, just more experienced.

    I am not here to judge you Mike. I offered before and I state it again. If you need help, which I believe you do, reach out. I’m not talking help with packing up iPads. I am reaching out to you as a fellow parent of a medically fragile child. Tell me what you need. By degree, I am a professional in the human services field. I can help you make connections in your community.

    Email me or scroll up to my JEllen account and you will easily find my phone number.

    I do know what it is like to be financially strapped. I recently uncovered our first bill from the Cleveland Clinic asking for $120,845.06 by the 30th of the month. Just seeing the piece of paper 20 years later, sent my heart into rapid palpitations. It is not easy. Most of us reading this blog understand that.

    Mike, we both know there have not been any real threats to your family. Getting address it easy today. Two clicks of the mouse and you can locate anyone you wish to. You are using this as a means to buy time, reach for excuses, possibly give you time to think of your next strategy. Please stop the vicious circle now. Own up to your ways, and the blogging community will likely forgive you.

    You owe our special needs community that much. You owe that to Marissa.

    If there truly are bosses willing to give thousands of dollars and iPads, divulge them. Post pictures. Click on this link and you will see pictures of Sarah at the post office last night. Mundane, yes. Necessary, yes. Those boxes contain items that are being sent to families that we have committed to sending quilts to. By showing photos from time to time, we are transparent. That is what being transparent looks like.

    Please Mike, I ask one more time to come forward with the real, honest, crystal clear story. Forty families need that right now. All of us with money to give to help other families deserve that, so we can go on without questioning everyone else's motives.

    To SN Avenger, I understand your motive for setting up this website. You are simply trying to get answers. I believe it is time for you to also be transparent. We all need to meet in the middle of the road here. Let's not allow this situation to cause any more grief, hurt feelings and wasted energy.

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  44. First of all, Erin, you obviously have no idea what its like to have a medically fragile child. A 500 dollar I pad is not something we can just run out and buy! Medical care and life saving equipment just about break us by themselves! And while i dont care about the i pad, people did donate thinking it would help, and i just hate that once again, SN kids may have been exploited. Like Steph said, it does bother me that people that werent part of the winners are posting this. I am waiting until i have facts before putting it on my blog for the world to see! Because if it is all a big mistake, then we've just lost a lot of trust in our close community!

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  45. I think it is a little unfair to blame the parents here for any damage to the Marissa's bunny site. It would be so easy to put all of this to rest. It would have been easy to put it all to rest a week or so ago.

    Maybe we will all be laughing about this in a few weeks.

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  46. "Rollercoaster? a bit of one, but my children have taught me patience and tolerance and hope. Until I have proof otherwise, I'm sticking with hope. It's a much better place to live."

    Love your words, Deb!

    Kate--We're one of the 40 too, but your niece's experience sounds much different. I've NEVER felt pressured to give money to the foundation. Ever. And the only personal info Mike has on us is our blog, my email address and my home address. These would be pretty easy to obtain even without me giving them to him.

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  47. Hello, I am the father of one of the iPad winners. No, we have not received the iPad yet. I never post on blogs. So I hope I do this properly and don't make anything worse.
    We would love an iPad for our specially gifted boys. This process has been worthwhile and meaningful for us, even if we never receive the free iPad+Apps. We have learned so much about which applications might be the most helpful. We have had great conversations with therapists and professional caregivers. We now have some documentation that will serve us well in the future.
    I have read through the "busted your bunny" site, the author(s) of which seem to be swooping in to save us all. I would really like to know more about "SN Avenger." Nothing elaborate, just something about their connection to the "Special Needs community," or other sites/blogs they're running, whatever. I'm not taking sides on "SN Avenger vs Mike." The only side I'm on at this point is my family's.

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  48. I'm glad people have had a chance to air their thoughts, including iPad winners and Mike.

    Ken from Blogzilly and Heather at Little Wonders have a new plan in place, check it out:
    http://blogzilly.blogspot.com/2011/07/mission-ipossible.html

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  49. It's late, the children's bedtime, Marissa's medication time, and I'm tired too. All the possible arguments have been put forth, everybody else has said what they wanted to as well, and I have no ill will against anybody directly involved or not. Everybody's minds are made up.

    Here it is. Brass tacks.

    1) If you don't want to wait, then let me know. I understand that this has been an emotional rollercoaster, as it was said before. I'll take you off the list, and you'll never hear from me again.

    2) If you are willing to wait, and can bear with this, then let us know. We'll continue to keep you up to date.

    If anybody has donated and you want it back, then all you have to do is let us know. I'm sorry to anybody in the special needs community who may feel used in any way- that was never our intent.

    Thanks, Ellen, for hosting the conversation.

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  50. So what I am hearing is that some guy/girl said "I know this is a scam, you aren't going to send the ipads and I am going to tell everyone" and Marissa's Bunny guy said "I won't send the ipads until this threat is dealt with".
    I usually think the best of people, but I wouldn't count on these ipads coming. So sad.
    But if our kids can get up every day and deal with all they deal with and still be as amazing as they are, I know that we will find a way to make this right.

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  51. Lol. No need to attack me for stating my opinion. I understand you're angry parents and all, but angry mob mentalities never get anyone anywhere. ;-) No, I don't know what it is like to have a "medically fragile" child, but I am disabled myself and I do understand that people simply can't go out and buy iPads because they cost money. Just like I can't go out and buy the Android phone I want right now because I've spent most of my money on paying for my own university education. Fact is, whatever is going on here, scam, no scam, whatever... if you don't want to wait and see what happens, you don't have to. Mike said that himself. I am sure there are other ways of getting the iPad for your child if you really want it. Don't give up on something just cos you can't get it for free, like you originally thought.

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  52. "Everybody's minds are made up."

    Actually, Mike, what I've seen here are a lot of people saying "Please help justify our faith in you." It seems as if people's minds are very much NOT made up.

    I don't see a mob mentality. I see a bunch of people whose belief in the goodness of the world is tested daily, sometimes hourly, by their children's situations. The thought of it being similarly tested by one of their own is almost more than they can bear. And with a very few exceptions, they're NOT giving up on Mike, despite strong evidence that they probably ought to.

    The free iPads were probably too good to be true. But special needs parents are accustomed to disappointment and bad news. I can't blame them for holding out against logic for some good news, just for once.

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  53. Also, Mike, I hope you'll continue to engage in a dialogue here, as long as Ellen doesn't mind. That "Busted Your Bunny" site is clearly being administered by someone who is gunning for you, and anonymously at that. I don't imagine you've got much hope of getting a fair shake there. I think you've got a pretty good chance here, though.

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  54. This is a little OT, but you know you have spent too much time on facebook when you keep trying to "like" comments. LOL!


    Steph

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  55. I must say I am saddened by what this family is going through. Living in a special needs world is not easy, but making friends via facebook, blogs, or list servs, you feel as if someone is walking this road with you. I applaud Mike for what his is doing in our special needs community. He may have been working with people that were not as trustworthy as he is, but when we start pointing fingers and taking sides we are fighting an unnecessary fight. This was a free giveaway. No one lost any money from the ipads as far as the contest goes. Shouldn't we all be thankful that someone is raising awareness? This is when we should rally together!! Thank you Mike for all you have done. I appreciate your honesty through all of this. ~~~~BTW I did NOT win an ipad, nor did I enter the contest. This is my humble opinion based on reading all about this.

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  56. I know from prev posts that someone checked out the "foundation" and found out it was not registered and not legit.

    Has anyone checked into the police report? If this guy is on the level, a report would have been filed. They are public record so anyone can request a copy.

    Now wondering if he even has a kid, esp from the prev post that said he contacted the family asking for MORE money... People make up stories for attention all the time on the internet. If that is the case, he/she needs help.

    If you requested a refund, did you actually get your money back?

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  57. I, also, am a parent of one of the iPad winners. I think this whole situation is very harsh for everyone though. If the statements are true, the parents and children will suffer and if not, well, Mike and his family are the ones who will be suffering. It all doesn't seem fair that some anonymous person who can't even truthfully state their claim in all this started the current mess. For our part, I'm glad my son doesn't understand because it truly would be so difficult on him. I still hold hope though...I can't imagine a parent of a special needs child would treat other parents who are on the same journey in this fashion. If we cannot support each other I wonder how we could expect others to support us.

    I do know once this is resolved, I will be posting the story in it's entirety on my blog and urge everyone to not engage in name calling and harsh words. Yes, the waiting is hard, yes the time spent is a lot, but without any proof either way - well, it's just really not fair to judge.

    Cortney, author FXS A Day At A Time
    http://fxsadayatatime.blogspot.com

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  58. Mike,

    Let us say that one day 'Marissa's Bunny' becomes a foundation that is more than you ever hoped for.

    If so, basic information about you--such as phone number, address and the like would be available.

    I can understand, instantly, the need tp protect one's own. However, the 'threat' against you was one of information that any determined 'googler' could easily find. No one, thankfully, threatened the physical safety of your family.

    Here is what has everyone questioning you. What has so many upset.

    In all of this, you have never provided any proof. Just wordsmithing. When people ask 'has anyone gotten an i-pad' its either 'yes. trust me' 'i can't say' or, as you recently said to SN AVENGER 'you can find that out yourself.'

    This (not so) passive-agrssive attitude is uncalled for. Countless times, people have asked you for simple proof.

    Proof that is easy to show. Does someone have an ipad? If so, lead us to that persons website. Ask that person to take a photo of themselves or their child(you can block out the face) or standing at a landmark with the ipad.

    Simple!

    I guess what is formost on everyones mind is this. The 'threat' you speak of was one of shared information that anyone could uncover.

    Instead of diving for the caves, to cover yourself, why didn't you consider the 40 families?

    Fourty people. Fourty. Fourty children who have no voice. Fourty parents hoping to see a smile, a laugh. To get a single word. To see that finger touch that screen....in hopes name.

    You abandoned fourty people on the shore... To save yourself from a simple rainstorm.

    We are hurt. And all you are doing is shrugging your shoulders as we reach out... And telling us 'too bad, you just have to wait."

    SN AVENGER has released nothing damaging or harmful.

    You however, have hurt fourty families.

    Who should I defend?

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  59. i'm not involved in this at all, and don't know the full story, but i did just want to add that giveaways go awry sometimes, and it doesn't always mean that is the intent.

    i remember a fundraiser for obama that took on a life of its own and resulted in people not getting what they were promised. the story is from 2008 but you can read about it here if interested: http://books4barack.com/

    good luck for a speedy and positive outcome for all involved!

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  61. Yes, I read the e-mail. It was uncalled for. But it was all for public information. Information that anyone could find(but hopefully not use)

    Mike has not once shown any proof of the i-pads existence. It is an easy thing to do. And it would ensure that fourty families are reassured that this is something real, something honest.

    I don't agree with the letter. But I also don't agree with mike's actions.

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  62. I think there are several of us who don't agree with SN Avenger's methods or snarkiness on his/her site, and are hoping for more transparency in that person's identity.
    Someone here isn't being truthful. All Mike has to do is produce ONE winner who has received their iPad or simply email Ellen a picture of the pile of unshipped iPads. Rather simple, I think.

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  63. The latest email has just come from Mike. So sad, but it's all over:

    "There are no longer any iPads. I've never had access to the matching funds I've been promised. Something along the way changed and I'm getting hung out to dry by my bosses.

    As to my obliqueness about my bosses and the company I work for, If their identities ever got out, long ago they promised I'd lose my job, my insurance, and take us for everything we have making Marissa's surgery impossible to afford. If I keep my mouth shut and the fact that I got screwed never gets out in any way then I keep my job, and my insurance, and they've promised to pay for Marissa's surgery after we give everything we can.

    My reputation is now screwed with the SN community but I have to be able to give Marissa the best chance for as close to normal as possible and will happily work under whatever conditions I need to. I'll dance with the Devil if it gets Marissa what she needs.

    We're not going to fundraise any more. There won't be any more giveaways on Marissasbunny for special needs or otherwise. I'm still going to update with Marissa's surgical preps and that kind of thing, but that's all. Marissasbunny is going back to what it was before they got involved, back when many of you started reading. No more promotions, just Marissa and her brother's story.

    There are the first words that are my own and not through a corporate lawyer since Thursday.

    Regretfully,
    -Mike"

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  64. No one should be ashamed to question mike about the existence of these i-pads.

    Not once has he ever offered to provide proof. Just vague statements and defensive actions.

    Nothing he has done speaks of a man who is concerned for the feelings of those involved in all of this. All of speaks of a man concerned with his image first.

    He has very personal details of these families. Phone numbers, adresses, possible doctors and stories of hardships and needs. 'criminal records' aside; how can he ask for the very information he is so obviously afraid to share?

    I almost hate to say it... But I wonder if these i-pads ever existed. Or if it was all an elaborate plan to bring attention to his site and his chip-in.

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  65. And there we have it, folks. The very iPad that he had shipped to my daughter twice no longer exists. That in and of itself speaks to the charade he has put us through for 2 months now. There never were matching funds. There never was a stack of unshipped iPads. But there sure were a lot of Chipin donations. His very secretive bosses are blackmailing him. Of course it isn't his fault.
    He got one thing spot on, he has lost all credibility in the SN community. And where credibility goes, so goes support.
    Hope your corporate lawyers (who spent all day on the couch with you yesterday in the den) are also going to help you with any possible criminal charges.

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  66. Sad?

    Mike, if this is true about your bosses, then the very lawyers you have should tell you that what they are threatening is illegal.

    Very illigal.

    I do feel for your daughter, but frankly, I feel nothing for you. Your letter is, again vague. I fully believe that you had near full knowledge of this.

    That I now am closer to believeing this is a scam is what is most frightening.

    You hurt, deeply, fourty families. Fourty children.You seem to care nothing about that.

    I understand the need to provide for your child... But to knowingly play with the needs and emotions of so many is beyond dancing with the devil. It's sitting at his right hand.

    You should be ashamed of yourself. Ethics and morals are formost in the creation of a decent human being.

    Where are your ethics and morals when it comes to everyone.

    You didn't even say sorry! It was all excuses.

    If you have enough to contact lawyers for a single e-mail....enough strength to do that....enough smarts to write so many misleading e-mails to everyone.

    You certainly have enough strengnth to deal with corrupt bosses and corporations.

    The moment you make this public, tell others of the truth of this company... thousands would have been on your side!!! Would have been appalled with you!

    But you decided to roll the red dice.

    I don't know what to believe.

    I do however, feel very sad for your children. Because they have a father who is willing to work with a corrupt corporation. But pull out a lawyer and injure fourty families.

    You say you will do everything for marissa. Why doesn't that include dealing with the obviously illigal bosses you work with?

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  67. The Ipads never existed. There was no packing mishap, no fired employee, no corporate shenanigans. There were never matching funds, no Silent Business Partner, etc.

    All that there has ever been is a man who lied and scammed to get $29K.

    What an unfortunate story.

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  68. This sickens me. I'm so sorry for all involved.

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  69. Sad, sickening.... And illegal. A man in the city I live in just got 5 years in jail for promising goods over the Internet and not providing those goods....

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  70. I just wanted to share that my son was awarded funds to get an iPad through the Prayer Child Foundation. So if you are looking to get an iPad for your child look into it. I am so sorry for the families involved in this. Perhaps they can contact Prayer Child and have their wish granted.

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  71. Huh! The funny thing is, most of these sentiments were written by ME in an e-mail to Mike not 3 hours before this came out!!!! Unbelievable.

    I think the writting is on the wall. There were never any iPads, and the whole "threatening e-mail" and alerting the authorities on his side was just so much posturing. I don't believe there are any employers, etc. This was a scam. Period.

    Quite frankly, I hope the REAL authroities who are still investigating this involve child protection services. Marissa and her brother, if the are Mike's kids, are the ones in real danger here. Mike all but pimped out his kids for monetary gain.

    At least we FINALLY have an answer regarding whether they are being shipped or not. While I am sorely disappointed in Mike, and some people who truely thought these things were put out there with no real investigation or proof - it is over and we can move on.

    I'll keep Marissa & her brother in our prayers, but I would hate to be Mike right now. He is going to be spending quite awhile looking over his shoulder for the authorities coming after him.

    As for my son, we will figure a way to get what he needs.....without ripping off others to do it.

    Stephanie

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  72. Hi Ellen, I've read through all of this and talk won't help. Someone need to just step up and say "Enough is Enough!"

    If 40 people won and didn't get anything, I suggest you call your state Attorney General and your local FBI office and see how to file a complaint.

    Sweepstakes, contests and lotteries are governed by both Federal and State law. In addition, any giveaway with a value of $600 or more would need to be reported to the IRS and your social security number would be required for the 1099.

    Something isn't right with all of this. His own lawyers would have told him to shut up a long time ago. If anyone had to give this guy anything to enter, there could be legal problem.

    Were the rules followed, especially for those states that require bonds to be posted?

    If he'd talk to lawyers they'd have told him that he's in a heap of trouble and to cut his loses and beg forgiveness.

    For those who provided personally identifying information, contact law enforcement immediately. There are too many undotted I's and uncrossed T's.

    Forget the discussion of maybe, hopefully and possibly. If I was representing a client I wouldn't hesitate giving my contact information out. Because that's the professional thing to do.

    Public information is just that - public. http://who.godaddy.com/whois.aspx?domain=marissasbunny.com&prog_id=GoDaddy

    If this really is all a mix up, let him explain it in the presence of his lawyers to law enforcement.

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  73. Amen, Stephanie! I will say one thing, while this has temporarily created "sides" in our community, I have gained a whole new group of bloggy friends through this mess! REAL people, and I can't wait to learn more about their journeys.

    As for Mike, he will get his. In one way or another. I have faith in that. If he is employed, it's a matter of time before his employers discover their "responsibility" in his scam. I can't imagine they'll be too fond of it.

    And look! GASP! A REAL iPad! In a box! With a serial number!

    http://blogzilly.blogspot.com/2011/07/mip-clarification-apology-tiny-teaser.html

    ReplyDelete
  74. Seriously what blogger has a boss. None of the ones that I know. Some have sponsors and ads but that's not a boss. I feel bad for the families involved...

    ReplyDelete
  75. Seriously what blogger has a boss. None of the ones that I know. Some have sponsors and ads but that's not a boss.

    I think he meant his bosses at his day job, which most bloggers still have to go to.

    I am just sickened by this whole thing. I could just barf when I think of how I trusted him right up until now.

    No longer any iPads? What about the ones that he said shipped already?

    Bosses who will fire you if you tell anyone they did a nice thing? Really?

    And these same bosses will pay for Marissa's surgery as long as he doesn't tell anyone they screwed him over? So he went ahead and put that in writing and emailed it out?

    Totally kicking myself here. Can't believe I was this hopeful and this foolish.

    ReplyDelete
  76. I feel like the genie in Aladdin right now...right after Aladdin tricks him into getting him out of the Cave of Wonders.

    I am apparently way too trusting. Also currently feeling entirely disgusted. I cannot believe someone from the SN community could do this to so many others.

    I wonder if anyone has any idea the legal ramifications of this and how it would work? I'm going to look into it, but really, who is going to have the money for a lawyer. So sad.

    ReplyDelete
  77. I do not have a dog in this fight, so I apologize if any of my post is offensive to those who do. I do have a 21 year old special needs daughter and have been following this story. Someone please report this to Fairfax County VA police (where the domain registrant's address is), to GoDaddy who holds the domain or to Google who hosts the blog.

    Let a law officer decide if it's fraud.

    This makes me so mad. If I had the money, I'd go right on over to the Apple store and buy 'em.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Joe's Mama and Cortney, don't kick yourselves too hard. We have all gone through that stage of disgust. We trusted him, all of us, for a very long time.

    It is my understanding that appropriate authorities were contacted several days ago, as well as his local media. Hopefully those that made the contacts can offer us further insight soon.

    I am wondering why SNAvenger's site is suddenly down.

    ReplyDelete
  79. I certainly hope they were. I am going to write up our story tomorrow including each and every email communication we had - of course I saved them all.

    I wonder since the iPads were a lie if the SN Avenger was part of the whole thing. Who knows what was true and what wasn't.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Now I wonder if SN Avenger was, in fact, Mike himself. His way of creating an 'enemy' in the hopes that people would rally beside him.

    People didn't rally, they started defending SN Defender.

    Is it just a coincidence that the SN Defender site was shut down just as he revealed 'the truth'?

    ReplyDelete
  81. Hi. I am deeply sorry for those of you whose children have been hurt by this. Please, do not beat yourself up, any of you. One of the best things about our community is our willingness to help one another and to care. In three years of having a blog and in five-plus years of living in the blogosphere, I have never, ever seen anything like this happen. It's an anomaly. I am sure we have all learned from this.

    There is excellent advice above, take note.

    ReplyDelete
  82. I am a parent of one of the 40 kids who were waiting for an iPad. There's nothing I can say that hasn't allready been said. I'm just really glad that Ellen (thank you) posted this yesterday so others could be heard in all of this and in a way come together on it. Although I don't believe the email from Mike he sent today, and that he likely is SN Avenger, I am glad he's admitted at least there are "no longer" the iPads so we can move on. It saddens me that there are people out there that take advantage of others, but they have to live with themselves and answer to God. I choose to forgive and move on. That doesn't mean I don't support any legal action against him.

    ReplyDelete
  83. I want it to be publicly known that I have requested my $80 in donations that were sent via the chipin in hopes of adding additional Ipads for the finalists to be sent to Ken Lilly to aid in his efforts to help as many families as possible. My son Spencer was also one of the children awarded the mythical Ipads! He too suffered from infantile spasms.

    I finally explained to Spencer as he was getting ready for bed tonight and asked if his Ipad would be here tomorrow, that sometimes people don't always come through with their promises. He sobbed until he fell asleep.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Oh, Kelly, your comment brought tears to my eyes. At least, we never told Jake because he wouldn't understand. Give your little guy an extra hug for me. I hope he gets one real soon.

    As for us? Forgiving, moving on, and still trusting in people. Won't let anyone steal that from me.

    As an aside, I also wondered about Mike being SN Avenger especially when I refreshed the site and it was gone. Too weird.

    If anyone needs another name for legal action, let me know. We haven't decided if we're going down that road on our own.

    ReplyDelete
  85. I'm sorry if my comments have hurt or offended people. Didn't mean for them to come out that way, and to be honest, when I made them, I didn't know much about the whole situation. Sorry to hear that your kids won't be getting their iPads as promised... I hope toy can move on from this and find another way to get them.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Kelly, I now have tears streaming down my face after reading your post. I would like to do something to help. Could you please send me your email address? While I am not going to make promises and risk disappointing you and your little guy, I'm going to put out some feelers to see what can be done to remedy the situation. One way or another, Spencer and the other children who were let down need to get those iPads.

    - Jo

    ReplyDelete
  87. I also very sorry so many families and kids are disappointed. It was very emotional as an ipad winner each time Mike sent an e-mail in the last month. I know I've learned a lot from this myself I went ahead and called him out on my blog saturday morning. I didn't feel a private email would have been enough. I called the RCMP (I'm canadian) and they said it was very important to warn others. I'm sure I could have been nicer about it but next time I'll think it a little longer before I blast someone in such a public forum. Lesson learned I just truly felt like the writing was on the wall. I can not image how he thought he would get away with this for so long. I'm very glad this is over as I've barley slept for days now.

    Sure we are a caring and supportive community but come on Mike we don't want to be taken advantage off or ripped off. Mike you would be surprised how generous people are when your honest and open.

    I suspected the SNavenger was Mike too at times. A tool he used to make sure no one wrote nasty blog posts about him as they may be preserved as the not so nice SNavenge out to get mike in a mean way. But who knows if it wasn't Mike then I think we should be thanking whoever it was. The sooner Mike's CHIPIN and iPad raffle were down the better.

    ReplyDelete
  88. The SN Avenger site was modified per our offer to Mike. We told him that we would remove the content as long as he promised to let everyone know the truth - that no iPads were forthcoming. After reading so many comments on this blog and others that many were still supporting Mike and holding out hope that he would come through with iPads, we felt that the most good would be served by giving everyone the concrete information they needed to move on.

    Now that you all know the truth, it's time to move toward something positive - the iPossible campaign.

    It was and continues to be my goal that every child be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings to the best of their abiltiy. That every child have the capacity to say, "I love you, Mom" or "Play with me, Daddy." I want every child to have the tools he or she needs to be stimulated, engaged and able to convey the emotions that I know they feel. My hope is that all of you are able to focus on THAT, and not on resentment and anger regarding this horrendous debacle. It's over, thank God. Let's move ahead! Please support the iPossible campaign if you can.

    ReplyDelete
  89. SN Avenger, can you just tell us who you are? It's difficult to support anyone who hides behind an alias.

    ReplyDelete
  90. SN Avenger - your site now says "We have decided to remove the content on this site for the time being. Please feel free to e-
    mail us at snavenger at gmail dot com."

    Why did you not open your site for comments/questions?

    Don't you owe it to this community that you have disrupted (or "saved" as you might want us to think), to explain how you came to be involved in this, your connection to Special Needs, etc.

    Even if you are in fact, Mike.

    Your frequent references to "our" and "us" etc. need to be explained, don't they? Given the massive breech of trust that has transpired and the impact on 40+ families, why should we trust you? How do we know you aren't one of the disgruntled 40+, how do we know you aren't behind the new campaign, how do we know you aren't "in" this community parading as someone else(s)?

    For my part, I'm trying to withdraw from all this and planning to pursue justice and restoration, to whatever extent is possible. At this point, I care less about the monetary value of the iPad+Apps, and more about the affect it has had (and continues to have) on my family and the families of the other 39+.

    ReplyDelete
  91. I am emotionally crushed by this.

    My sweet, sweet 9 year old is at camp right now, so I get a few days for the emotions to die down.... But I will have to tell him.

    It's my fault for telling him he was a winner of an iPad In the first place - but we were just so excited. Since the day we told him, he's asked me nearly every day if THIS would be the day that it came. An iPad commercial would come on and he would scream, "Like mine mama!" he doesn't remember a lot of day to day detail - he remembers this.

    K is an amazing kid - and regardless of the stacks of labels permanently attached to him and sometimes working against him... He wants to be typical. He wants to run and play like his brothers do. He wants to follow the conversations the kids at the lunch table have, but they just talk too fast... And they talk about things he's not able to do.

    I was very honest with Mike. Yes, I wanted preschool and kinder based curriculum apps to help his learning. I asked for speech apps to help his communication....K will never write with his hands so I envisioned him taking it to school and using the keyboard... But I also wanted K to have fun with games. He knows boys love video games. HE loves video games - but typical controllers and hand helds are impossible for him to control, and the games move too fast. We've tried the DS, the Wii and that new kinect thing (waste of money). He can use a touch screen. He CAN use a touch screen!!!!!

    An iPad would have been a game changer. Learning, fun, communication -- and a bridge of conversation to the typical world of boys his own age.

    So yes, I'm mad at being scammed and lied to. I'm upset about the emotional roller coaster.... Mike told me LAST night, LAST NIGHT K was still getting an ipad even if he had to dip into Marissa's surgery fund.

    What has me awake tonight is that reminder of loss that I think we probably all went through when we had our babies. I don't think about it much anymore, because he's 9 and an awesome kid, and this is our life and who he is..... But K had a chance to dance in the typical world for a bit with this amazing prize....and now that dance is over. Again.

    ReplyDelete
  92. Well, I'm yet another person who has no metaphorical dog in this fight, and I haven't read much about this, but from the comments here, SN Avenger may be a troll. Not the usual sort of troll you are undoubtedly accustomed to, but a troll nonetheless. That doesn't mean I agree or disagree with what this person did. The good things Anonymous occasionally accomplishes are, well, overshadowed by the bad things that they also accomplish... My point is that SN Avenger might just be one (or many) lurkers who want to help. I know that if I could help, I would, but I don't have the money.

    It seems very clear to me, at least, that the whole thing was a scam. I am speaking as someone who has never followed "Marissa's Bunny", or a particularly active blogger. If the emails mainly consisted of "I know this is a scam, just give it up already", what harm could it POSSIBLY do to send out the iPads, or prove that they even exist? If the threat was to expose his fraud, what better way to rid himself of the threat than to prove that there was no fraud in the first place? This smells fishy to me... Tell me if I am missing something, I guess.

    Sorry for the rambling comment.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Who are we?
    https://sites.google.com/site/bustedyourbunny/

    ReplyDelete
  94. I am very sad now reading these stories and how excited some of your children were about getting an iPad. I want to help. I can't go out and buy the iPad myself and ship it to people cos I don't even live in the US but I want to help contribute some money to help kids like K and Spencer. Obviously I can't help all 40 kids, even though I'd like to and obviously this is me putting trust in people when I have no sure way of making sure that any money I contribute goes directly towards an iPad. I was going to spend my extra money on an expensive phone I don't need right now but I would like to now help instead after reading how much these kids really need an iPad much more than I need the phone. Please, I am serious about this and even if people whose children won iPads, are unwilling to accept money, I was thinking I could at least offer my experiences as a young, successful person living with disability. I don't quite know how to get in touch. I'd leave my email but I want to know that people who contact me are legit so maybe people can reply to this comment or direct me to their blog so I can email them?? Please let me help in some way. I am once again sorry for my previous comments... they were ignorant and unfounded.

    ReplyDelete
  95. I donated $600 to Mike's foundation and I'm so sickened that it's turned out like this. I'm not involved in the special needs community at all, I don't have a child with special needs. I found Marissa's Bunny through a webcomic and her story touched me. I've emailed Mike asking for my donation back, but I haven't heard anything yet.

    ReplyDelete
  96. I don't really understand the anger at SN Avenger. I appreciate that he (or she) called this out into the open. We would probably all have gone on waiting for another month or more before coming together to ask the tough questions. In all honesty I don't care who he is. He hasn't asked us for anything or promised us anything. He only compiled information that was available to the public.

    Does anyone know for sure that law enforcement has been contacted?

    ReplyDelete
  97. I just received an email from Mike saying that access to his paypal account is limited but he'll still refund. I'll let you know if he does.

    ReplyDelete
  98. is his access limited by his bosses or his lawyers?

    ReplyDelete
  99. And now the excuses as to why refunds won't be forthcoming.

    As someone who has a paypal account... you can't be "limited" in access unless you don't own the account or you just don't have the funds.

    As to this whole 'bosses' thing. I honesy don't believe that either. After the news is broken, he tries one last ditch attempt to grab our sympathy by saying people are using his child.

    This has 'scam' written all over it in huge letters.

    I hope more than one person takes legal action against this man.

    I also hope that others make Mike's actions more public so that others, who are unaware, don't get sucked in by his site and story and used by him because the information is not 'out there'

    ReplyDelete
  100. Karia please call a lawyer and the police I highly doubt he is going up and up refund you. Mike hopefully you can prove me wrong.

    Also everyone be very careful who you befriend here please know con-artist on the internet have many, many identities they know how to play people. I'm sure some here with sob stories are Mike trying to steal an iPad from Mission iPossible. Please be suspicious and skeptical. Mike never had 40 winners like this whole thing was a lie. He claims 311 people applied and he selected 40 I think that was a lie. There was only 28 comments on the ipad giveaway announcement page. Surely if 311 people applied a few more comments would have been left. A scammer would surely included some of their other scammer identities in the mix of winners so then when this played out badly they could be victim again.

    I also don't believe there was 22 applicants in the second round. I'm sure there was less. I only noticed 7 donations on his chip in the last few weeks. Which i would think is a possible 7 applicants but who knows what is going on.

    This wasn't a little white lie that spun out of control this was planned.

    Sorry to be so skeptical but really please question, question and question and if something is fishy call police.

    I know it was said this was hopefully an anomaly perhaps to this scale but I'm sure this is happening much more then we like to think.

    ReplyDelete
  101. I didn't respond to the winner announcement on his blog, and I'm not Mike. I am verifiable, out there, and open to transparency.

    I didn't mean to give a "sob" story - it's just our experience and what I'm going through, thinking about right now.

    ReplyDelete
  102. I also did not post a comment on the winners' page and chose not to provide a link to our blog but my name was there - Bethany Borgueta. There were however only 30 winners listed which would be on par for Mike, that is to say there were forty winners but only notify 30. Perhaps he thought he would be able to pull this off if the donations had kept rolling in. By the way, I called my mother the day after we received a copy of the "threatening" email to let her know this was a scam because she had contributed $100 and then $50. She then went out and bought us an iPad! We asked to be taken off of the recipients' list for both Marissa's Bunny and Mission iPossible. Ken Lilly graciously offered to include us in the Mission if there was any other type of assistance we needed but we declined of course because all we wanted was an iPad for Jacob.

    ReplyDelete
  103. Wow! Interesting read. From the first time I read Mike's blog years ago I thought to myself he's a drama queen and a legend in his own mind. When I saw mention of the free give away on Facebook I immediatly thought....never going to happen and didn't pay attention until I got an email from a friend about the entire situation. Maybe it was a scam but in my opinion it was more likely a good idea gone bad, to give a few iPads is probably a reasonable goal but if you an attention seeker, which I beleive Mike is, as soon as everyone thinks your awesome for giving away a few why not say you are giving away 10 then more people will get excited and then 20 and before you know it you have 40 people thinking you are a hero but you can't follow through.

    In my 8 years of being part of the SN community it always seems like those that say the least usually do the most and those that say the most usually do the least.

    Last week A friend forwarded me the email that was sent by the SNAvenger. I thought it was well written and a fair "out" for Mike....seems like he should have taken it.

    We all know the story about losing the job is a bunch of BS...we are to believe that if a company fired an employee for saying something like that it wouldn't make for horrible PR and a mega lawsuit?

    Sorry to all that didn't get what they expected. Our school district purchased an iPad for Broc along with several other students....it was a great deal for both students and the school district, a $600 iPad versus a $10,000 Dynavox. Maybe an option for some.

    Mike Bartenhagen

    infantilespasms.com

    ReplyDelete
  104. I don't know how his paypal is restricted, his exact words were "Access to my paypal account seems to be limited at the moment likely because of all this"

    He said he'll see how it goes over the next 24 hours, but he might have to send a money order.

    As for hiring a lawyer, that's a route that I want to avoid if I can, partly because I'm in the UK and I can't even imagine how complicated it would be. However, I'll cross that bridge if it comes to it.

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  105. I have updated my blog post this morning with everything I had including all email correspondence from March 21 to yesterday. I can't even being to explain how sickened I felt putting it all together.

    http://fxsadayatatime.blogspot.com

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  106. Please don't accept a money order from anyone online. All the websites about Internet fraud would warn you against that.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Any thoughts on going to the media?

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  108. I am sorry to all those that won't be receiving new technology. I wanted to defend him, as a father and such. I wanted to believe. Some times though believing just isn't enough. I will just love my children a little more and request a refund on my donations. I'm sure that will be full of excuses as well. Maybe I should just start blogging more, like the rest of you.

    ReplyDelete
  109. I am a parent of one of the original 40 iPad winners, too. All along, the warning signs were there, but then we wanted to hope and believe. Not just because of the iPad (which my son is really counting on for his therapy and school), but for the sake of hoping.

    I mean, it's such a fight to advocate for services. We don't get therapy, my child can't even be in school, we have to travel 1000km to see specialists - familiar territory for a lot of us. So when we thought we'd won an iPad and it seemed like someone cared, understood, noticed and was able to do something for someone else, for us, I needed that. And I still do.

    I still need to believe that in spite of - or even because of - circumstances like these, people can help each other. Maybe I'm a fool, but you know, I still believe we want to help. After all, Mike wouldn't have been able to pull this off if there hadn't been so many people who were willing to make donations.

    That's what makes me mad about this. People genuinely just want to help.

    So I hope these families get their iPads in spite of all this. Not because of the iPads - Mike's kind of ruined that - but because we need to believe in goodness.

    I can't imagine what Mike's story is. Maybe he's a horrible man. Maybe he's sick. Maybe he just got in over his head. I don't know. But I hope it gets sorted out and that, if the Marissa story checks out, theres one little girl who gets the support she needs in spite of it all.

    ReplyDelete
  110. Why is no one talking about all the personal information he has on You, Your Family, Your Child, Your Child's Doctors and Therapists? Does he have enough information for identity theft? It all seems so frightening to me beyond the level of not getting an iPad. Has someone actually called the VA police, DA, or someone who will listen?

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  111. The personal info. is my biggest concern, too. I have contacted my local RCMP and the VA state police to talk about how to protect myself from that angle.
    Of course, I'd encourage the other parents to do the same. But we don't really know that this guy is even from VA, do we?
    :(

    ReplyDelete
  112. Well I sent Mike an email, not too kindly worded as I was in the second round of prizes. I did get a response, anyone else get the same?

    Wait and see. Pictures this afternoon of me handing an iPad over to a verifiable winner.

    There's tons more to this story you don't know.

    If one of y'all get this please post, but i'm sure you will.

    ReplyDelete
  113. My local RCMP has advised me that anyone in Canada who has been effected by this scam should report to the Canadian Anti Fraud Center (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Wait, now he's saying there will be photos of him handing an iPad to a winner? How long does he need this to drag on?

    This bit from his last email to the winners ...

    I'll dance with the Devil if it gets Marissa what she needs.

    ... keeps ringing in my ears. It's the only thing he's said all week that feels like a peek at the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  115. First, to SN Avenger, thank you for posting your story. I asked, you answered. Thank you!

    As an original recipient, I still don't know how I feel about all of this. Still processing, I guess. I have enjoyed (not sure if this is the right word) reading your stories and knowing we're not alone in this.

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  116. Yes, a recipient is coming by my house, she has my phone number, she has everything else.

    She'll be here around 5 or so. There will be mass documentation. I've forwarded who she is to SN Avenger.

    I'll do what I can on my own.

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  117. Could be a staged photo opp, as opposed to a "real" recipient receiving a new Ipad. The scammer has been revealed, and even a photo now isn't going to change what people know. Mike W has a criminal record, for doing this type of thing before. Don't believe a word he says.

    ReplyDelete
  118. She's one of you, and has already spoken to SN Avenger, and Ken Lilly.

    Wait and see.

    ReplyDelete
  119. This definitely doesn't pass the sniff test. There has been far too much drama and almost no clarity or transparency in this whole situation. "Look, I'm giving away an iPad RIGHT NOW!!! See?"

    Post a photo of forty iPads being loaded on a UPS truck, and you'll have our attention. Hell, ten would be a good start. But this? This sounds very much like you think a great many people are stupid.

    And they're not. Quick to trust, quick to hope, sure. But not stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  120. Rob, I'm not assuming anybody is stupid. I know it's not a community-wide 40 iPad award. I'm not asking for sympathy, I don't deserve it.

    I made promises. I broke promises. I'm just trying to do my best. I know it's one iPad. I know there will be questions. It's all I can do right now.

    I can't walk away from this.

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  121. First there were 40 iPads, then there were none, now there are iPads again? Someone should contact Apple, they seem to have invented invisibility and/or teleportation by accident!

    Either that, or a liar keeps changing his story and expects everyone to believe him.

    ...Take your pick.

    ReplyDelete
  122. I bought this one. There aren't iPads, there's iPad.

    ReplyDelete
  123. I am sorry to say this, but I am so angry after reading all of the posts here. The heartbreak at the loss of hope and trust is truly a terrible thing. I am so sorry that families here, who ONLY want to give their children the best opportunities that they possibly can.

    My brother has Down Syndrome. It's easy to see why "promises" from someone within the community...someone who was trusted....someone who was perceived as a leader and an advocate...would be easily believed. After all, it is hope that keeps us going. Without hope, things can get pretty dark.

    I think that Marissa's dad needs to step back and leave the situation. You made your apology, you are in a mess, don't get yourself in deeper. I don't know if there will be consequences or not. Focus on your family. Focus on Marissa. They need you.

    To whoever is accepting an iPad today. Think carefully about whether or not you want to accept it from Mike. It is only ONE iPad...he said he didn't have any...where did this one come from? Is he now using funds that were earmarked for something else? Don't be a sellout. This ONE "gift" is not going to solve anything, if anything it will make those who still lost out more hurt.

    Mike, this is NOT enough to redeem yourself. The damage has already been done.

    ReplyDelete
  124. I'm not asking for redemption. I used some family money with full approval of my wife, which I can replace over time. No sellout, it's something we agree we have to do, regardless of now being out of a job.

    This lightens the load on the other group. It's not an effort to get out of trouble. It's an effort to live up to promises. I don't expect forgiveness. I don't expect to ever be a "leader" again.

    This was going to be a fait accompli, until it got mentioned up above, without a big motivation discussion. I don't understand why everybody doesn't understand that this is as much for me as whoever I can award.

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  125. "I don't understand why everybody doesn't understand that this is as much for me as whoever I can award."

    I think this is one point that just about everyone CAN understand, although probably not in the way that you mean.

    ReplyDelete
  126. I would not start believing this scam artist now. For all anyone knows, he doesn't even have a child with Infantile Spasms. Everything else he said was a lie. Now we're supposed to believe that he is "out of a job" and just went and bought an Ipad to give away?

    Please.

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  127. Yeah, three years of posts, and videos. Marissa's not real.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU2u4DVL4XE

    Note who it was uploaded by, and when. Watch it, and tell me again Marissa isn't real.


    Rob- probably not.

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  128. We wanted transparency? I think we have it. We are seeing the start of a new narrative - It will go something like this: I screwed up on my last contest. I made promises I couldn't keep (but it was my bosses fault). But I suffered too -I lost my job because I really wanted to stand up for these people. I even used my own money to make good for one family. I just HAD to do something.

    I suspect that this is the set up for future fundraising efforts.

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  129. Nope, no more fundraising ever. No more chipins, nothing.

    If I ever get offered, I'll point at Ken's offer.

    ReplyDelete
  130. Mike....STOP...just stop. Stop the lies. If you don't post anymore, you won't need to lie anymore. It's time for redemption. I am not saying it is going to come for you any time soon, but the more you keep talking and lying, the longer it is going to be.

    I am sorry you lost your job...I am sorry to say, however, that I don't believe that you had one. If your bosses are that evil, report them, there are whistle blower laws. You say they are "big," but seem very scary...is it an even above ground place?

    Everything doesn't add up.

    Which is why I say again. STOP! It's done. It's over.

    ReplyDelete
  131. So what about the Foundation? What about the roughly $4400 in matching funds you raised in February? Are you ever going to answer for any of that?

    Honestly, I wish Marissa WAS a fiction. The thought of this being perpetrated by one of our own really bothers me. A lot.

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  132. Earlier today I filed a complaint with IC3..the US's Internet Crime Complaint Center. I urge all who have been involved in either iPad giveaway or gave money to do so as well.

    http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

    It is my understanding that one of the "winners" has made contact with the DA in Mike's area. If I get any contact info or further details, I will post them. I trust this source, and don't necessarily think 40 of us placing calls will accomplish more than 1 call.

    Mike, as for your little stunt of the day...it will never be enough. Not even close. It may absolve you of some guilt in your own mixed up head, but it will not even begin to fix this. I would recommend saving that money for an attorney.

    ReplyDelete
  133. I have notified the media here in Oregon and I will let everyone know if anything comes of it.

    For those of you with non-verbal SN's children, Holly Robinson Peet has a foundation that provides free iPads. The child MUST be non-verbal. And that must be certified by a physician.

    I, too, am VERY concerned about the private information Mike now has re my 12 y.o. niece (one of the "winners"). If the scam giveaway is not criminal, disclosing or using private and medical information is. I encourage everyone involved (both applicants and winners)to monitor your credit reports and, if you donated, your various financial assets/accounts.

    Finally I wanted to restate THIS IS NOT ABOUT AN IPAD. This is about trust and hope and gratitude; and feeling violated, foolish and scammed.

    Mike sent several emails over the past few days BUT HAS STILL NOT APOLOGIZED or acknowledge the non-material issues.

    ReplyDelete
  134. I just deleted a comment that made an inappropriate connection between this story and one in the news. Please, let's not go there.

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  135. Mike,

    1) If your bosses are as awful as you say, why haven't you reported them? What you imply they have threatened is illegal.

    2) Why the sudden trust/alliance with SN Avenger? First they are someone who 'threatens our family' and makes you 'call a lawyer' now you are freely sharing information.

    3) Throwing up a video of your daughter to 'prove' who you are seems crass at best. Proving who you are needs to come from you from transparancy. From dialogue. Not from a video and a statement of how much you and your family are 'suffering'

    4) Where is a real apology? Everytime you mention this, you mention how it has affected you. Mike this is your fault and an apology. A real one. One without 'evil bosses' or 'my child' or 'I'm hurting'. In none of this have you seemed to understand the pain you have caused.

    5) One i-pad, bought last minute, to appease the crowds is not going to help. A public apology on your website and the acceptance that some may feel the need to call a court... is the first steps towards some kind of believabilty.

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  136. and when the dust settles, you will have crucified a man who has spent years caring for his children, building awareness and who still tried to reach out and help others.

    You sick sick people should be ashamed

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  137. When the dust settles, we will most likely see the truth about a man who has lied repeatedly and who may very well have used his daughter as a platform from which to hurt other people with similar kids. I would say he has definitely built a kind of awareness over the past few days, but again, probably not the way he would have liked.

    Also, nice sock puppet, "James".

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  138. Either way Rob

    You have already crucified the man


    good job

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  139. and when the dust settles, you will have crucified a man who has spent years caring for his children, building awareness and who still tried to reach out and help others.

    You sick sick people should be ashamed


    This man has knowingly used fourty families and children. Everything that has been done, he has done himself.

    He strung people along for months lie after bigger lie. He used his children in many of the e-mails to explain delays.

    'We' have done nothing except make this public. Made public the actions of a man who lied. Who used fourty innocent children to promote his website and raise funds--funds that no one has knowledge of where they are going--

    Everything that has happened is all mikes fault.

    We are allowed to be angry and upset. Being used by someone and getting upset is not 'sick'.

    However, using, lying and stealing from needy families and children? That is sick.

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  140. Is there a particular reason you re putting my name in quotation marks?

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  141. Assuming somebody is guilty does not necessarily make it fact. Follow your legal investigations, Contact the fraud department, do whatever it is you feel you need to do to deal with this god awful situation.

    But remember that there is more at stake here than weather your theories are right or not,

    If any of you would like to talk further about sock puppets please skype me on username baseisdead and I will be happy to talk it through with you.

    Otherwise keep your disgusting conspiracies to yourself.

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  142. conspiracies? The only conspiracy is the one he himself did.
    Most of us are concerned about Marissa. Is she real, is she his, or is she just some child he has photos of? If she is his, I'm sorry for all of her problems, we have the same problems. But you can easily yourself if you dig a little that this is all a fraud! So he is the one that is sick, not us!!

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  143. Assuming somebody is guilty does not necessarily make it fact. Follow your legal investigations, Contact the fraud department, do whatever it is you feel you need to do to deal with this god awful situation.

    But remember that there is more at stake here than weather your theories are right or not,

    If any of you would like to talk further about sock puppets please skype me on username baseisdead and I will be happy to talk it through with you.

    Otherwise keep your disgusting conspiracies to yourself.


    There are no conspiracies.

    FACT: Mike sent over 34 e-mails about the i-pads.

    FACT: The e-mails stated, at the beginning, that the i-pads existed. That he had seen them. That he was shipping them from office depot. That he had seen 'the big brown trucks' that he knew they had been shipped.

    FACT: Mike stated he had proof people had recieved the i-pads.

    FACT: Mike stated that he was stopping the contest and stopping shipment of the i-pads.

    FACT: Make stated that the he had contacted lawyers and stopped shipment and further contests because of a 'threat' against his family.

    FACT: The 'threat' was a poorly worded letter that stated public information would be released.

    FACT: Mike stated he was doing everything to get the i-pads shipped

    FACT: Mike releases a statement that the i-pads never existed. That he was 'afraid' of his bosses. And would 'dance with the devil' for his daughter

    FACT: Mike releases a statement that he had purchased an i-pad himself to give someone. It is indicated that he has lost his job because of this.

    FACT: Countless people have faked their own illness and faked the illness of their own children. 'Audrey Rose' is a prime example. A woman who pretented she was pregnant with a deathly ill child. Told of that childs birth... it was all fake, the ' child a doll. Ashley Anne Kirilow faked cancer and raised over 8,000 dollars. She went as far as starving herself and shaving her head. 'Kaycee Nicole' a woman faked the cancer and death of a child for several years for thousands in money and gifts.

    James you may find it distasteful, but after fourty families have been scammed to such an extent, have shared their personal information to a man who refuses to share even the most basic of his own. And, a man who has yet to apologize without pointing out how much he has suffered... people have every right to question how much--if any--of this man's story is true. It is not 'sick' it is a search for truth, a search for answers. A search for something for fourty needy children who have been horribly used.

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  144. One winter day, a farmer found a snake by the roadside, stiff and motionless with cold.

    "If you put me inside your shirt," the snake said, "your body will make me warm and I won't freeze to death."

    "Oh, I know your kind," replied the farmer. "If I pick you up, you will bite me."

    "Oh no," the snake objected. "Why would I do such a thing, if you are good enough to help me?"

    So the farmer had compassion on the snake, and taking it up, he put it inside his shirt. The warmth quickly revived the snake, and resuming its natural instincts, it bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound. "Oh," cried the farmer with his last breath, "why did you bite me? You promised you wouldn't."

    "Ah," said the snake. "So I did. But you knew I was a snake when you picked me up."

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  145. @SN Avenger

    Are you implying people should have known better? That they are somehow at fault for dealing with a known 'snake'?

    None of this is the participants fault. No one had any idea that he was like this.

    You can't blame the parents for being bitten by 'the snake' if they didn't know he was a snake in the first place!

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  146. No. We are all vulnerable to deceit, but hopefully this won't happen again. We should all have a pretty good idea of who we're dealing with.
    We've opened up our little site back up for discussion of this matter:
    https://sites.google.com/site/bustedyourbunny/your-thoughts

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  147. The reference by SN Avenger is because one family, if you check out the marissa bunny site, has received an iPad. The one mentioned by Mike in comments above.

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  148. Mike and I have been "friends" through Marissa's Bunny for 3 years. We have shared countless messages back and forth about our children, our shared doctors, treatments for IS, and just plain encouraging each other through it all. My son Spencer was one of the 40 children awarded an ipad. As many of you know, he cried himself to sleep last night. Early this morning, I received a call from Mike, letting me know he cannot live with the situation as it is, and is doing his best to start obtaining as many ipads as he can on his own. I offered another donation and he said give it to Ken for his efforts.
    This evening we were invited to their home to pick up an Ipad 1 for Spencer. You can see the pure joy on his face if you look at the photos.
    I got to rub Marissa's back and hold baby brother tonight. It was wonderful. Marissa's grandmother looked at Spencer and said she hopes the same for Marissa someday. My daughter said she wanted to crawl in bed with Marissa and hold her. We are all real people and these are real emotions. We felt comfortable with Mike and his family and hope to see them again soon. Spencer is so pleased to have a real Marissa's bunny now too!
    I can tell you that I know Mike had an excellent job for a fabulous company and when things got contentious in the community, they backed out for fear of their name being connected with "threats" and special needs children. Mike is having such a hard time with it, that when he sent his latest email in an effort to help us understand - he was fired.
    I know there are a lot of opinions and emotions going on here - and I am not trying to disagree with anyone or change any one's mind.
    I also felt really bad about going to pick up the first Ipad, but if we are going to all end up getting them as we work together to get this done, one thought is - should we say no thank you to Mike if he can still help some of us, and therefor shorten Ken's list of Ipads to obtain?

    Mike and I live about 5 miles from each other. We have spent time talking about his past and it has nothing remotely to do with anything that is perceived to have happened here. Sometimes people start out with good intentions and are counting on others - and sometimes the rug gets pulled out from under us.

    We all want what is best for our children, and we want to support each other.

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  149. Wouldn't it be amazing if those ipad photos had the boy receiving his ipad and a picture of "Mike" and "Marissa" all in the same photo.

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  150. IF Mike was fired why in the world would he not "name names"? Here's my guess as to what happened:

    Mike's life is very stressful. His best outlet for this stress was his blog. He built a following in the SN community and started to think/daydream about what he could do to increase his sense of community. Dreams and reality started to collide. He imagined something really great, and then let himself get carried away and blogged about it as though it was real.

    People at Mike's company became aware that Mike was more or less accusing them of not living up to their promises. Even though he didn't name them, they felt very uncomfortable with the whole fantasy Mike had created around them. After all someone who knew Mike knew what company he worked for and word could spread. Based on his fantasies (lies) they felt they had no choice but to fire him.

    Mike needs help. Probably psychological help. I have no doubt that he loves Marissa very much and that he wanted to build a life to honor her. But things got away from him. Poor guy.

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  151. My profile states that I joined blogger in 2008 I have 185 profile views... I only use blogger to comment to blogs I read - which I don't do very often.

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  152. Wow. Ok.
    As I mentioned on the other blog, I am verifiable via twitter @jwbar and Facebook. Ellen and Ken can BOTH vouch for me as I have provided lots of identifying info, they are both on my Facebook.... As are a handful of these other bloggers. Please don't start pointing fingers in the direction of the ones who have been dealing with this drama and turmoil for MONTHS!

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  153. This is Joyce. Sorry, don't want others to feel we are pointing fingers, just trying to gather clarification and piece things together in a very sad state of affairs.

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  154. Hi. My profile is now opened. I used to have a blog. One of my adopted sons had a severe mental illness--schizophrenia and died when he was a teen. I closed the blog down due to a variety of comments about this.

    As you can see, this profile was created in 2008 when I started blogging. 566 views of my profile.

    I have always been someone who has read and supported the SN community. Seeing what Mike has done, brought forth many feelings. Among them how others treated my son. How we were used because of his disability.

    JEllen--if you feel it is something that needs to be done, I will contact you.

    I am not a 'sockpuppet' just a mom who is very angry for all of you.

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  155. I know this is a bit nitpicky, but can we not use a need for psychological help as an insult? Mental illness isn't something to make fun of, just like the special needs of any of your children are not something to make fun of.

    Thanks...

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  156. My comment was referring to Annie's "Mike needs help. Probably psychological help." by the way.

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  157. Matthew, don't worry, I saw it too...

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  158. Wow. I had every intention of using my usual name (cerealgirl007) in posting, but the comment form wouldn't allow me to use my usual googleid, and redirected me to a "create blogger account" page. No guest posts enabled, so I created the account in the interest of disclosure and it truncated my user name. I suspect others may have experienced the same issue.

    Lately I've been posting at http://cerealworldl.tumblr.com
    But I have to admit, I resent that you ask. If I had no blog at all, or wanted to remain anonymous, would that have given me any less right to say what I've said?

    I just wanted to encourage people to contact authorities and protect themselves, as I have done. And to express my disappointment, as all of us have done.

    I would thank you for directing your mistrust and anger in more appropriate directions. We're in this together.

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  159. I didn't even realise that my blogger was set to not let people view my profile, I've fixed that now.

    I've posted a screenshot of the email I got from Chipin here: http://i.imgur.com/3ehVX.jpg

    That enough proof?

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  160. I was not using "psychological help" as ANY sort of insult! Wow. Just wow. Did you really read my whole post. Like where I said that I think Mike was under tremendous stress which allowed reality and fantasy to collide for him, that he clearly loves his daughter very much, was trying to honor her and that things got away from him?

    Clearly this guy needs help. I don't think he was just trying to scam anyone, but rather that he lost his way. Felt the need to look like a hero, something really psychologically amiss. I believe that when fantasty and reality have become mixed up, which I believe probably happened for Mike psychological help is what is needed. Why would you assume that is some sort of insult?

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  161. The only thing being done now, is more hurt feelings. Best of luck all, and hope to see you on a happier note in the future. I really do need to update my kids blog.

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  162. I DID remove my post which shared additional contact information about myself but that was only because I am being harassed by other forms of communication, personal and business by some of the very people involved in this discussion. I SO wish this is not how things are. I wish you ALL well!

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  163. We all have a lot of conflicting emotions and there is a certain amount about this situation we will probably never know. I highly doubt the full truth will ever come out and that is frustrating. In some ways our situations are all the same and in some ways they are all different. Can we are agree that we should not turn on each other? I wish everyone here (whether I agree with you or not) the best. I hope that in the near future all our kids are enjoying ipads.

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  164. http://www.giveawayblogs.com/profile/MariaSantos

    Apparently the person taking the credit for Marissa's Bunny blog is NOT "Mike", but a person named Maria Santos.

    What I find most intersting is that "Mike" or "Maria" or whoever is poting gives away tons of medical information, but never mentions "his" wife's name or the name of his employer.

    I hope to God that this is not a big, elaborate scheme where a person has been committing fraud for 4 years on the basis that it is to help his/her non-existent child.

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  165. KellyG has only been on Blogger since July 2011. Convenient.

    Another one of "Mike's" characters, perhaps.

    Notice Mike, Kelly, and others have talked about Ken Lilly - is this another of Mike's characters too?

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  166. It's also interesting how a dad who wants to spend time with his family and not deal with this craziness has time to write 7 comments in 2 hours...

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  167. Just so you know, Ken Lilly is a real person, and a very sweet man. His blog is blogzilly.blogspot.com. He was one of the 40 winners, and he is trying to make this right! i and many others can vouch for him!

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  168. I was not directly involved in any of this but I too am very saddened by the whole thing. In the end there are people being hurt in some way, that already have enough hurt in their lives. One of the other things that really bothers me is how this has now made it so that people are judging other good people by what Mike may or may not have done.
    There are good people out there trying to do wonderful things for our kids and they do not deserve to be judged because of some one else's crimes.

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  169. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  170. (Why was my other post taken down?)

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  171. Wow just catching up on all of this today as I have been out of the loop the past 4 or 5 days. I can't believe all the stuff happening. I personally contributed to marissasbunny and even convinced my company to contribute to meet one the the "thresholds". I really don't know what to think of it all, other than to say I do believe Ken and his partners and will support him them as much as possible.

    Kevin Jordan

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  172. FYI - Maria Santos is Mike's wife. She has also raised money.

    Steph

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  173. Gina: "This post was removed by the author" means that the commenter herself/himself deleted the comment. I can't tell you why you took down your own comment. Please ask yourself and get back to yourself.

    I hope we can someday get resolution on what happened here. It's just sad all around.

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  174. Are All of SNAvengers Comments gone, like their website? This story get's stranger each and every day.

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  175. So Mike is now claiming that he's lost his job? This story makes no sense! How could his employers, who were allegedly so generous as to match donations, suddenly be so mean as to fire him?

    Also, how can the iPads be simultaneously shipped and not shipped? What are they - Schrödinger's laptops which vanished as soon as someone checked to see if they were in the box or not?

    I do feel very bad for all of the families who were expecting to be awarded an iPad, especially those who can't afford to buy their own. I'm glad that Ken @ Blogzilly and friends are trying to make things right.

    Gods only know where the money originally sent to Mike has gone, though.

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  176. @ Ellen:

    I KNOW that I took those other posts down. I posted one that no one can see now that had links to websites with Mike/Maria's information, information about KellyG - the person who supposedly got the iPad, and information about the fact that there's no Maria Santos associated with a Mike Wuerthele that I can find. Also websites about Mike trying to sell other stuff. Oh, and I have his IP address if anyone wants to see the other sites he's bought to try to scam people.

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  177. P.S. his IP address is located in Cambridge, MA...so if you need to call authorities under his jurisdiction, I'd start there!

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  178. http://statsie.com/more.php?t=sip&ip=184.86.156.59&ref=applesforkids.net

    Look at all the domains (did he purchase all of these??)...now, I'm not EXTREMELY tech-savvy, but does this website mean that all of these domains have been registered under (or while the creator was on) a computer with this IP address? Or does it mean that the person with this IP address was looking on these sites?

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  179. Sorry, no. Web sites can share the same IP address. More likely, MA is the location of the shared server.

    Out of curiousity, where did you get the IP address?

    My hubs is tech-savvy (25 years+ in the industry). We are kinda following along...

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  180. He is originally from MA. Last I hear, he still has a brother that lives there. I am guessing where ever he is, he is making himself scarce. I am surprized he hasn't commented at all. IDK if news agencies in his area have picked up on this or not. It's too bad those kids are caught in the middle (Marissa & brother). :(

    Steph

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  181. A person's IP address traces to the location of their ISP... Which may or may not be particularly near them, but you can usually get a general area at least.

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  182. I got the IP address because I tried to see who owned the domain marissasbunny.com. I don't think it was godaddy.com, but a similar website that I looked on, but either way, on one of the websites his IP just showed up along with the other information like his address and telephone number (which may or may not be false). I'm looking in my browser history from yesterday, and I can't remember which site it was.

    So I googled that particular IP address, and it came up with all of the websites operating from that IP address and it said this was in Cambridge, MA. Which is funny because if the IP address has always been in Cambridge, MA and Mike claims RIGHT FROM THE START that they went to Inova Fairfax hospital in Virginia, THAT'S AN 8 HOUR DRIVE!!! IF MY CHILD WAS SEIZING, I WOULD NOT DRIVE 8 HOURS TO A HOSPITAL!!! SOMEONE NEEDS TO LOOK IN TO THIS BULLSHIT!!!

    I also googled the e-mail account associated with the domain (that is given on godaddy.com) and it came up with a bunch of websites that I posted yesterday, but the comment somehow got deleted.

    Not too bad for a little not-too-tech-savvy voice teacher, eh?!

    There are five things that disturb me now:

    1) On one of the websites associated with his e-mail (mydreamapp.com) there was a picture and description of him yesterday. Now that picture and description is gone - he deleted it from the website so no one could find out about him on this particular website, and he never once mentioned that he had a daughter.

    2) If I had a blog about a child with special needs, I would have at least a few pictures of me with the child on the site, playing with her or hugging her (as I do with my average-abled children) - especially since he keeps talking about what a wonderful dad he is. As far as I can tell, there are no pictures of Marissa with either of her parents - just a therapist. I DONT BELIEVE MARISSA EXISTS FOR THIS REASON.

    3) bust your bunny.com - the website supposedly by SN Avenger has now been taken down. Removed. It is no longer. That leads me to believe that Mike DID make up the whole thing about getting threatening e-mails. And there's a website called giveawayblogs.com where both marissasbunny.com and SN Avenger are registered users (which SN Avenger joined on Tuesday), and when asked what SN Avenger blogs about, it says "Maria Santos and Mike Wuerthele" - the creators of Melissa's Bunny. So are we to believe that the character SN Avenger has been around a long time, when the only thing he/she has ever blogged about under this name is the Marissa's Bunny scandal? (And there's not one shred of evidence that this person has has an investment in this story or has even existed until now)??

    4) You notice that Mike stopped commenting. I believe he realizes that he is in a lot of trouble with the law. And I think the reason the winners of his contests who didn't get the prizes before did not sue/call authorities is because he's always claimed that there are people who got their prizes so this is just a fluke (and no one could contact anyone to figure that out because there were only 1 or 2 winners for each contest) OR they didn't want to sue because no one wanted that money taken away from Marissa (if Marissa is even real). I mean, would you sue someone who raised $30,000 for their daughter's operation? So THANK GOD you all are speaking out about this and I hope you come together to give Mike what he dseserves!

    5) I believe I watch too many law shows for my own good :)

    That is all for today and my super-sleuth-dom. I pray for you all!

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  183. Ok - one more thing. There are claims that Marissa's Bunny is not registered as a foundation.

    I looked it up, and he registered to be a foundation ON MONDAY. Which means that he's trying now to cover his tracks. Too bad his passion/job/ex-job (apple techie stuff) is the very thing that's incriminating him because you can't make up dates/times on computers.

    And I'm not trying to be cruel - I'm just merely trying to help you all out because I work with a lot of kids with special needs at my music school - including a family with 3 kids with high-functioning Asperger Syndrome - and I care about them deeply. I was also a public school music teacher who had many kids with special needs (music helped my students with special needs relax more and express themselves). And I CARE about kids who are not average-abled because something in my heart breaks every single time I see something bad happen to them. If I was an investigator or lawyer, I'd take this case pro bono...

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  184. Good sleuthing, Gina! I am almost ready to put this mess to rest, but still had a thing or two more to add.

    The home that the child was in, supposedly receiving an Ipad, does not look like the home that he has photographed Marissa in (if indeed, Marissa is really his own daughter, which we really still don't know). There's a photo of her in a stander, and if you look at that "decor", and the "decor" in the Ipad recipient photos, they simply do not jibe.

    I agree that there is something mighty sketchy about no image of Mike or his unnamed wife in ANY photo. Most people are more concerned about protecting their children's identity, and sometimes show them from the rear. But I don't know of another blog that shamelessly shows the kids and NO parents, not even the "wife" by name.

    I am also now troubled by Mo and whomever, supposedly the ones who started the Busted Bunny site, which is now down. Are they legit? Are they in the scam with Mike? Apparently, they are now in on the Ipossible thing going on over at Blogzilly. Why did they take the site down, and where are all SNAvenger's posts? That all seems vedddddy fishy.

    I seriously hope Mike isn't able to simply slink away with over $30K, which he scammed from unknowing people, only to do this all over again. I really hope that he is prosecuted within the full extent of the law.

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  185. Does anyone know what surgery Mike claims his daughter had that cost $30,000 out of pocket? Our son Broc has had 4 surgeries for seizures in the past year and I don't know of any surgery that would not be covered by insurance and\or medicade.

    Gina....not sure you need to register as a "foundation"....the only thing required to be a foundation is that you say you are a foundation.

    Mike

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  186. @ Mike

    I am the director of a nonprofit (my music school), and I know that in 39 states you need to register to have both a nonprofit corporation AND tax-exempt status (including both Massachusetts and Virginia, where Mike has claimed to live) by filing articles of incorporation. If you receive money for a "foundation" without registering, it's illegal for tax-evasion reasons, and the foundation leaders/board members are PERSONALLY liable for anything that goes wrong.

    I would assume that the foundation is a nonprofit, because if it isn't, then someone's profiting from the generous donations.

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  187. @Gina Pants: I'm pretty sure the Cambridge IP (a deploy.akamaitechnologies.com hostname) is a red herring here.

    Akamai is a company whose business model it is to distribute web traffic, such that when a consumer of content requests a page, the data comes from an Akamai server that's near the consumer. Akamai's traffic accounts for a big portion of total internet content, in a way that's not usually visible to the consumer.

    (I'm unaffiliated to anything here, except that Akamai employed a lot of my peers around when we graduated from college.)

    Presumably, if they find probable cause, law enforcement can subpoena the ISP that hosts Marissa's blog for the records of where Marissa's dad updated from, how he paid, etc.

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  188. I read through some back entries in Marissa's blog, and what struck me as interesting is that in 8/2008, Marissa's dad mentions being employed working from home, and that his employment involves support for Apple hardware and software.

    My guess is that the only jobs that let you work from home and do that, involve being on the phone for most of your working hours. Yet, I don't hear any of the stress in his writing tone, nor any fretting about how he can get his work done while being primary caregiver to sick baby who's crying lots and lots... there's just lots of beautiful, well-executed photos of a cute baby. All of the angst really lacks detail and immediacy.

    If he's giving her injectable medicines, doesn't he describe how the nurse coached him through doing that? Does Marissa's medical team take it in stride 100% of the time that the father is the SAHP? Where is the fatherhood learning curve? The friction as to who stays home/goes to work/attends appointments? Is this his first time blogging - if so, why is his voice/style uncannily consistent right from the first post - if not... well then.

    (With a healthy baby, a part time job, and paid childcare to match my working hours, I was pretty stressed out.)

    The anger at insurance over the drug costs does sound genuine enough, though.

    Critical analysis is much easier with hindsight to raise one's suspicions, of course.

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  189. Mike, the surgery hasn't happened yet...it has been delayed multiple times over the course of several months, according to the MB blog. I am not qualified to comment on whether that's a usual scenario for brain surgery for epilepsy.

    Anyway, the surgery as described on the blog will involve making vertical cuts in the outer part of the brain, all the way around, as a way of stopping seizure activity from moving from one area of the brain to another. Google tells me this is called multiple subpial transection. However as all of this stuff blew up he said there was another delay because a different neurologist wants to place a vagus nerve stimulator. So it's unclear when the surgery will happen, or if.

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  190. I've been reading Ellen's blog for a while now, and I'm a quiet member of the SN community. (One of my sons has mild ataxic CP and speech/developmental delay.)

    I've been following along on this sad story and did a little online research myself. As a result, I believe that the daughter Marissa does really exist and does have infantile spasms:

    http://dauclair.blogspot.com/2008/05/new-catholic-daughter.html

    http://dauclair.blogspot.com/search/label/marissa

    http://virginia.catholic.org/stmichael/newsArticles.php?article=39902

    I also believe, from having read several different posts made by him that he is a home-based computer consultant. Not sure if there are any "bosses" or not.

    I am not, by any means, defending anything that Mike has - or has not - done. I think that there is much more to the story than we will over know.

    Just some more "facts" for the discussion.

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  191. Not to worry about the foundation paperwork. Even if he DI file it on Monday, the Feds and most states REQUIRE a criminal background check complete with fingerprints. They run not only through regular law enforcement databases, but military and Interpol. His foundation will NOT be approved with a convicted felon at the helm.

    Maria Santos is the person that Mike says is Marissa's mother. However, if you were able to look at all the info on the SN Avenger site ( and I tracked this one down independantly), Mike also has a facebook with an entirely DIFFERENT wife and family (bros/sisters, etc - no kids)!!!!

    My theory all along is that Maria is actually a girlfriend who works as a nanny to these kids, and they have been using them for awhile. He know "just" enough to sound plausible at first....

    But let me ask you IS or seizure parents out there, how many of you have NEVER run across any mention of a vegal nerve stimulator somewhere in your research? 3 1/2 years into his daughter's battle with IS, on the verge of brain surgery, and he sends an email last week asking if anybody had ever heard of one??? That doesn't pass muster with me.

    I DO know that SN Avenger is NOT MIke. THe "threat" perceived by him was that all of that information would get out and ruin the gig that he, and possibly others, had going here. If he WAS employed, maybe he didn't tell them he was a felon. That in itself is illegal, another one of those pesky Federal laws, but his "Employer" is just a responsible for not doing thier due dilligance before hiring him. Those things are public record and easy to find.

    Quite frankly, I am less concerned about all of the ins and outs of the situation at this point. I got the answers I needed - He isn't going to live up to the promises he made to these kids.

    I also want to make clear, as recently as Monday/Tuesday, he was still sending me e-mails. He offered another iPad to my son and wanted to bring it to him and apologize face to face. We live in Illinois.

    I told him he didn't need to do that. We were supposedly second in line behind the lady who's pictures were posted the other day. I could see where this was going, so I wrote him back and said that if one showed up on our doorstep, we would most likely accept it. But we weren't going to allow pictures of our son out there getting this thing, just to make him feel better that he has done "something". So basically, thanks, but no thanks.

    He responded that he was "going to continue to do what he could do". I haven't heard from him since.

    I don't know what that means. We haven't received anything from him, and I am not anticipating that we will. Quite frankly, if he showed up here, I'm thinking I would probably have to keep Christopher's Dad from knocking him out cold.

    We'll see if he ever resurfaces again. My guess is he already has with a different name. Either way, it will be a lifetime of looking over his shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop. Have fun with that....

    Steph

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  192. @Stephanie: Interesting...

    The dauclair.blogspot mentions of Marissa are convincing to me (in so much as the author seems to be a real person, with plenty of detail and thoughtfulness), but he gives the parents as being named "Mike and Malou" in his description of her baptism.

    I wonder what happened to the May 15, 2008 surgery date, that the baptism was being hurried up for. When the Marissa's Bunny blog starts up in late June, there's no mention of surgery.

    The 2010 writings (with the exception of Larry) don't trip my hinky-meter nearly as hard as the 2008 ones. I guess I could interpret that either as the impostor's emotional involvement increasing, or as the father's numbness wearing off.

    (I suppose the speculation is rather useless, but trying to put my finger on where the lies start is fascinating.)

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  193. Camilla,

    I certainly don't want to sound as if I am defending Mike....as I said in a previous post from the begining, years ago, I saw him as a drama queen and a legend in his own mind but I can tell you as a father who works at home and has a 9 year old son with a history of IS and a current diagnosis of LGS that there is no time for a learning curve. We spent two days in the hospital learning to administer ACTH and came home and started giving our son daily injections..it's on the job training.

    Marydell,

    I can't imagine any insurance company wouldn't cover MST, our son had a grids placed, a Corpus Calosotamy, grids placed again, and then 3 resections. During the last surgery Broc was to have MST done but the surgeon thought he had had enough and opted not to do so. The MST alone is somewhat minor as brain surgery goes. Broc also had a VNS placed earlier this year....again covered by insurance. I can't image any need to raise funds for these surgeries.

    I'm still of the opinion that Mike exists and he is Marrisas dad, she had Infantile Spasms and for the most part his story in regards to that is legit. I just think he got caught up in his only little fantasy thinking he was somehow the Infantile Spasms Superhero and it got a bit out of hand.

    Mike

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  194. Hey Steph, you want to hear something super funny? A day before this all came out, when he sent an email asking if any parent had a "device" placed for seizures, I emailed him back and told him about Jax vagal nerve stimulator, and what it was supposed to do. The next day he posted that a new doctor wanted to try that. Sounds more than fishy to me!!
    I know we are all trying to figure out who to trust right now, and you may not even trust what I say! But the SN Avengers were simply moms who found out about this and wanted to help. They are real women, and they are working with Ken at Blogzilly to make this right!

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  195. LOL! Lacey - that doesn't surprize me at all. His mea culpa message was almost verbatum an email that I had sent him hours earlier. THAT is why I have such a hard time believeing that Marissa is his. I personally think that Maria (malou) Santos is either the mother or a nanny, and he has maybe watched these kids grow up. But they aren't his, IMHO. Too much disconnect.....Ugh!

    Steph

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  196. http://www.facebook.com/people/Maria-Santos/1504801541#!/people/Maria-Santos/1504801541?sk=info

    Here is Maria Santos' facebook page - the Maria Santos who I believe IS the mother of Marissa (doesn't that look like Marissa in the picture??) But it does NOT look like Mike W in the picture.

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  197. Here's the part that doesn't ring true to me (taken from the first post on the blog about what happened to Marissa)

    "She made this odd jerking motion. Then again. Then ten more times. I started to freak out about it and called my wife at work, called anybody I could try to talk to. Nobody answered, everybody was busy with life’s mundane tasks. Frantically, with the teary baby still in my arms, I turned to Google, and researched epilepsy quickly, but didn’t find anything relevant or that looked like what she was doing. I was relieved- but only for the moment."

    I don't know of a parent that when their child was acting in the way described, would, "call everyone they knew AND google" but not call 911.

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  198. @Stephanie: The Mike Wuerthele on Facebook appears to be a different guy, Michael D Wuerthele, based in Pittsburgh. He's also on Linkedin and seems to have a fairly public identity and not be connected to this situation, or at least I don't think he'd put his employer name on Linkedin if he was the same guy. I think Michael-no-initial-Wuerthele in VA is probably the MB Mike.

    Www.zabasearch.com is a fascinating yet scary site where you can look up everyone of the same name and see what towns they're in, by the way.

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Thanks for sharing!