More Than a Toy

Posted on Dec 20, 2019

Adyn and Abby unload donations of toys they collected for children at Johns Hopkins All Children's.
Adyn and Abby unload donations of toys they collected for children in the hospital.

A brother and sister can make a formidable team.

Seven-year-old Adyn and 6-year-old Abby are proving that to be true with a special holiday gift.

On this sunny afternoon in front of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, the pint-sized duo is helping to move a mountain of colorful toys from the bed of a large truck into bins for transport. It’s an impressive haul. Soccer balls and tea sets, superheroes, boardgames and every kind of baby doll imaginable.

“Way to go, Adyn and Abby!” The siblings are cheered on by a small sea of supporters from the hospital’s cancer and bone marrow transplant units … people who know their story.

“It’s the season of giving, and they are one of the most selfless families I’ve met,” says Gauri Sunkersett, M.D. “This is such an amazing example to everybody, including our kids.”

The donation of toys — and the ambitious task of collecting them — is both a gift of gratitude and an act of love from Adyn’s family. After all, they have a deep understanding of the power of a good toy.

Adyn’s journey has been a difficult one. He has been treated for high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) since his diagnosis in 2016. There was a relapse. Then a bone marrow transplant with a donation of his little sister’s bone marrow, which meant he would spend last Christmas here at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. In June, the cancer returned once again. In September, Adyn received a type of immunotherapy called CAR-T cell therapy to treat the cancer.

So many weeks and months spent inside a hospital room. So hard for a little one who’d rather be anywhere else.

It was the toys that made all the difference for Adyn. Toys and games.

“You spend a lot of time within those four walls,” says mom, Erica. “The toys got him through it. They simply got him through.”

Adyn sailed through CAR-T cell therapy, and his tests have continued to show no signs of cancer. His mom says he is back to being an energetic, joyful little boy. The family knew they wanted to do something special to give back.

“When my mom suggested a toy drive,” Adyn says, “that’s when I got really happy.”

The community rallied. Businesses offered to collect toys, and volunteers donated time and resources.  Soon the family garage was overflowing with donations. The goal of 500 toys was more than doubled before they were done. 

“You hear so much bad news,” Erica says. “But this just shows that we really do live in a world full of good people.”

Adyn’s family is cherishing this time together. Like so many families who go through this journey, they have learned not to take a single day for granted. So they stay busy making memories.

This Christmas, when Adyn celebrates the season with his sister and mom and dad in a cabin in Tennessee — somewhere on the hospital’s seventh floor, a child who can’t go home will receive a special toy — one that will make all the difference — from a family who knows exactly how much it means.

Want to help kids like Adyn? Grateful parents Karen and Casey Moore established the Love McKinley Foundation in honor of their daughter. Their Foundation is matching up to $75,000 in donations to the BMT program this holiday season. If you’d like to have your donation doubled, click here.


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