Fundraiser aids family of missing Pa. boy

September 04, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Mike Suders, right, receives food from Charlene McClure at a Sunday fundraiser for missing child Khalil Mohamed Atteya.
By Jennifer Fitch/Staff Writer

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. — Khalil Mohamed Atteya, known by his family as Niko, would’ve loved the music, food and other activities that were featured at a Sunday event at the Fayetteville Fire Hall, his aunt said.

But Olga Panagos said there will be a bigger party if Niko returns home.

The 11-year-old Fayetteville boy has not had contact with his mother’s side of the family since he was allegedly kidnapped by his noncustodial father on Aug. 1 in Egypt.

Panagos’ family and friends helped her organize a fundraiser. She said a couple hundred people stopped by Sunday to aid in expenses, which include an attorney’s fees and Egyptian hostel costs for Niko’s mother and aunt.

Niko’s mother, Kalliopi “Kalli” Atteya, remains in Egypt fighting for her son’s return. Panagos said little progress has been made, despite pleas made to senators, congressmen, the White House and Egyptian officials.

None of the agencies has arranged for a neutral intermediary to check on the boy’s welfare, Panagos said.

“That’s the part that gets me frustrated and the family (frustrated) when both governments are involved,” she said.

Panagos, of Chambersburg, Pa., has not been sleeping. She said she starts to tear up when describing the guilt she feels for living her daily life not knowing what conditions Niko faces.

“The hope is he’s OK, and we’ll see him soon,” she said.

“He needs to be here where he belongs,” family friend Victor Coon said.

Coon, a Fayetteville resident, said Niko always beat him when playing video games. Now, Coon is using Facebook and sending letters to top U.S. officials in his efforts to bring the child home.

Coon’s friend, Julie Ward of Chambersburg, wrote a letter to a pastor she knows in western Pennsylvania to ask for prayer. Coon and Ward previously worked with Atteya and said her love for her son is always evident.

“Niko was definitely a mama’s boy,” said Penny Thomas, of Fayetteville.

Her son, Derek Moore, attended elementary school with Niko. They attended the fundraiser with Penny’s sister, Jennifer Thomas, and other family.

“The thought of it, it’s just awful. I wish there was something more we as a community could do to help them,” Jennifer Thomas said.

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