A Richland family's donation of new toys to the pediatric wing at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland aims to give some joy to the children who might have to stay there.
Mike and Tanya Zaugg and their three sons dropped off the toys Wednesday. The family has a special relationship with the pediatric center because their 7-year-old son Aidan spent time there in 2008 for cancer treatments. He died in November of that year.
"Aidan would have turned 10 years old on Aug. 18," his mother said. "We continued to celebrate his birthday by filling the yard with red balloons on that day each year."
Then the Zauggs got a different idea four days before Aidan's birthday this year.
"Had Aidan lived, we would have invited all our friends and family to his 10th birthday party because that's quite a milestone," Tanya Zaugg said.
So the family figured why not have that party anyway, complete with presents, then give all the goodies to the pediatric center, she said.
"So many people brought gifts to Aidan's party that day, even though it was a last minute thought. The outpouring of generosity from the community was overwhelming," she said. "This hospital staff was so amazing and good to us, and these toys are the least we could do to show them how appreciative we are.
"Our friends, family and this community really pulled through for us. We're going to do this every year now."
Aidan was diagnosed with a rare form of brainstem cancer when he was 4 years old. After radiation treatment in 2006, it looked liked he might be able kick the killer disease. Instead, it came back and eventually took his lifeNov. 24, 2008.
Dr. Kevin Marsh, who treated Aidan during his stay at Kadlec, said the toys will be a major attraction for the children who spend time in the pediatric ward.
"Distraction is a powerful tool with kids," he said.
And what better way to attract them than with toys, he said.