Off The Beaten Path

Pam Pollock
February 2016

#519Strong Delivers Christmas Joy To Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

In the December issue of Movin’ Out I wrote about the First Annual #519Strong Toy Drive for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The Toy Drive was organized by the Coast Family in honor of their son Jeremy who lost his battle with Leukemia shortly after his 18th birthday in June 2015.
Families, friends, businesses, Churches and even strangers rallied around and gave their support and donated toys, toys, toys, toys! So many toys were donated during this inaugural event that a trailer was needed to transport them to Children’s Hospital on December 23rd!
It was my honor and privilege to be on hand during the toy presentation at Children’s Hospital. The parents of another young boy, 8 year old Dyllan Botti, who lost his battle with Leukemia in August 2015 also organized a Toy and Gift Card Drive, Driving For Dyllan. The Bottis coordinated their drop off for the same time as Jeremy’s. They arrived with a Fire Truck and firemen who helped to unload the toys. It was great to watch the staff at Children’s Hospital in action. They would line up a brigade of sorts and pass down the toys from the trailer in an assembly line, stacking the toys onto big carts for transport into the foyer of the hospital. I lost track of how many trips were made. A spokesperson for Children’s said that the combined #519Strong and Driving For Dyllan toy drive drop-off was one of the largest, if not the largest, toy drives ever received at the hospital!
As I was standing in the lobby, surrounded by the sky-high piles of presents, I had goosebumps. I watched young children who were so sick and parents whose faces showed sadness and fear, but also a fierce strength walk through the hall with such resolve and resilience. It was a very humbling day for me and I walked out of the hospital with a vow to help keep delivering some Christmas joy to these young patients in the years to come. The Coasts are already planning next Christmas’s toy drive and as always are #519Strong!