Doctors believe 2-year-old Brody Allen, who has terminal brain cancer, is not likely survive to see the holidays — his favorite time of year.
After his parents, Shilo and Todd Allen, covered their yard with dozens of holiday decorations for Brody, many of the neighbors near their home in Colerain Township, Ohio, teamed up to help bring an early Christmas to the Santa Claus-loving toddler, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. For weeks, neighbors and strangers have showered Brody with Christmas carols and gifts — and some have even gone as far as decorating their own homes with ornaments to transform their town into a summertime Winter Wonderland.
“No one should have to go through this,” Matt Castleman, a pastor of Crossroads Westside, told WLWT. “But if they do, they shouldn’t do it alone.”
The support displayed by their community, and from people around the world, has helped Brody and his family feel the holiday spirit, despite the dire circumstances.
“People from all over the world are sending me messages in languages I don’t know, sending me prayers in religions I’ve never heard of and just embracing our family in ways I could’ve never imagined,” Brody’s father, Todd, told the news station.
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But recently, some of the decorations that have been set up in the young boy’s honor have been damaged, including an inflatable Santa Claus and polar bear.
“They gutted the stomach,” neighbor Alisha Lynn told the New York Times. “And then they sliced it sideways and up and down… It broke my heart in pieces.”
When neighbors patched up the damaged balloons, the Grinches returned and, this time, cut squares in the decorations — a deliberate attempt to destroy Brody’s Christmas cheer and render the inflatables unusable.
“He was really sad,” Brody’s sister, McKenzie Allen, 21, told the Times of her brother’s reaction to seeing one of the damaged balloons. “He calls Santa ‘ho ho’ and he said, ‘Oh no, ho ho broke!’ “
Yet, residents in this Cincinnati-area neighborhood were not going to let the vandals get away with ruining Brody’s holiday so easily.
“It’s Christmas — you can pop Santa, we’re just going to put him right back up,” Brody’s father told WCPO. “You can’t break Christmas.”
Finally, on Wednesday night, resident Juan Reiter filmed a teen violently slashing a Santa Claus decoration in his yard. He immediately posted the footage to Facebook and informed the police, and just hours later, officers were able to track down two teenagers who confessed to damaging the decorations.
According to the Times, the Colerain Police Department — who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment — have not yet identified a motive.
With the vandals finally caught, the neighborhood can now return to filling little Brody’s days with as much cheer as possible.
“This shows what a great community can do when everyone works together,” resident Lori McMullen told the Enquirer. “Northbrook is unstoppable now. All it took was empowering residents with the task of looking out for one another. Merry Christmas.”