KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The growing problem of local child abuse has caught the attention of a national celebrity.
Comedian Howie Mandel performed at the I mprov Comedy Club in Zona Rosa on Saturday. He used his humor in hopes to help combat the humorless problem of child abuse and juvenile homelessness in Kansas City.
The standup act raised money for Synergy, an organization that helps children who have lived through abuse.
One child being helped by Synergy is Govi Eastwood.
The Desoto, Kan., boy was locked in an attic by his own mother in 2010. Govi's aunt, Stacy Eastwood, adopted the little boy and his two sisters last year.
Govi is now 9 years old, and is learning to be a kid again. He loves gymnastics, wrestling and kickball.
RELATED | Govi, found locked & starved in attic at age 5, works through trauma http://bit.ly/QFVCV7
This summer Govi learned to ride a tricycle bike. Eastwood said she is astonished at his growth.
"It makes me want to cry. I never thought he would come this far-not in a million years," she explained.
When police officers pulled Govi out of the attic of his mother's home back in 2010, the then 5-year-old weighed less than 20 pounds. That’s the size of an 8-month-old baby.
Govi was so dehydrated that officers say he wouldn't have lasted another day in the sweltering attic. It was Govi’s grandparents who called to report that they hadn’t seen their grandson in several weeks. Govi’s mother, Rachel Perez was arrested for child abuse and is still in jail.
RELATED | Read Govi's story http://bit.ly/JgqB1e
Govi’s therapist, Sonya Richardson, said Govi still talks about those terrifying moments with her, but she said he knows he is not responsible for what happened.
"I don't think anybody could have taken Govi out of Govi and I love that. I just love that about him," Richardson said.
Govi's family said Synergy Solution's program has helped the little boy put the past behind him.
Since the "Standup for Synergy" event began six years ago, it has raised $1.6 million.
"Everything I've ever been expelled for, hit for, punished for is what I get paid to do today, but if I can do that and do what I love to do and what I crave at the same time, and that brings attention to somebody who's doing good and raising money, that's a win-win”, Mandel said.
He added that he loves touring the country and getting to hear stories like Govi's, which can inspire us all.
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