$100,000 raised for boy with cerebral palsy blessed by Pope Francis

The Keatings say they have been "blown away" by the generosity of strangers.Facebook | World Meeting of Families

Just two weeks after being blessed by the Pope, hundreds of strangers have donated over $100,000 to a boy with cerebral palsy who desperately needs a new wheelchair-accessible van.

Ten-year-old Michael Keating was taken by his parents to welcome Pope Francis when he arrived in Philadelphia on September 26. According to the Washington Post, the family – all devout Catholics – had not originally planned to bring Michael because of the difficulty in getting him around. At the last minute, though, they decided to go as a whole family.

They stood on the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport, among thousands of others. Something must have caused them to stand out, though, because as the Pope was driven away, suddenly the car stopped. Francis got out, walked over to the Keatings, and offered Michael a blessing, kissing his head. Michael's mother, Kristin, said it was "life-changing for our family".

"I had to turn away. It was just overwhelming," his father, Chuck, added.

Following a Washington post article about the Keatings, donations began pouring in from strangers all over the world who wanted to help pay for a new handicap accessible van. The family's current van is broken, and so Michael's parents have to physically lift their son each time they take him anywhere. Kristin has had two hernia operations as a result.

More than $107,000 has now been raised; more than enough to pay for the vehicle. One of the donors is Hollywood director JJ Abrams and his wife Katie, who gave $50,000.

"Katie and I made the donation. Likely for the same reason others did: we were moved by the Keating family's grace, strength and commitment to each other," Abrams told the Post.

Other donors have expressed solidarity with the family. "My niece is like Michael and an angel among us, teaching us every moment that life is precious and with God, anything is possible," one said.

Another added: "We are humbled by your grace and faith. We hope you feel our prayers, especially those in thanksgiving for each of your courageous lives....Thank you with all our hearts for being examples of Jesus's mercy and love. May the Lord continue to grace you with strength and abundant joy. May we all be guided by holy families such as yours. Such beauty."

"I can't believe it," Kristin said of the generosity of strangers. "It's just adding up and adding up. ... I'm so blown away."