A child’s legacy lives on through large toy donation to Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital
Pediatric patients will now have hundreds of additional toys to make their stay at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital more enriching. On Sept. 3, a local family donated 350 plus toys, which will be shared between Hemby Children’s Hospital and the Novant Health Blume Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Clinic, in honor of 4-year-old Connor—who beat cancer but lost his battle to HLH (Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis) in March of this year. On Aug. 17, the day that would have been Connor’s fifth birthday, his family held a birthday party in his memory and requested that guests bring toys for Novant Health pediatric patients so that other children fighting their own battles could enjoy them. Seventy-five guests came to celebrate Connor and donate toys and other items.
“We had one girl get her office to do a toy drive, and she collected five large boxes of toys,” said Kim Smith, Connor’s aunt, who helped deliver the toys to Hemby Children’s hospital. Toys are an important aspect to pediatric patients’ hospital experience, because they can provide distractions during difficult medical procedures, and they bring overall joy to patients who are adjusting to life away from home. Connor’s legacy will live on through the toys, a gift whose effects will be felt for years to come.
Similar to any other toddler, Connor loved animals, super heroes and was an avid Carolina Panthers fan. Yet his life changed dramatically in January 2012 when he was diagnosed with T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of three. After receiving treatment at Hemby Children’s Hospital, Conner was cancer-free by July 2012. In February of this year, Connor was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), an auto-immune deficiency disease that causes the body to attack itself. Conner passed away shortly after.
Connor’s family decided to turn this unfortunate situation into something positive. “Because this is extremely difficult to lose a child/nephew, we knew we had to do something else aside from sit and cry at home,” said Kim Smith, Connor’s aunt. On Aug. 16, Connor’s family held a blood drive called, “Payin’ It Forward for Connor Jones” and set up a bone marrow registration with company “Be the Match.” Smith said, “Both were critical in [Connor’s] fight!” Smith also said the only cure for HLH is a bone marrow transplant, and she hopes to raise more awareness about the disease. Seventy-nine people came to the blood drive, and 48 individuals registered to be bone marrow donors. The success of these events gave Connor’s family the idea to do the toy drive in memory of him. For more information about how you can donate to support Hemby Children’s Hospital patients, please call 704-384-5134.
Contact: Marketing & public relations, 704-384-4119