A seven-year-old cancer survivor with a big heart wanted to show his gratitude after completing his chemotherapy treatment. Tripp Hughes completed his treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and his thought was, ‘How can I give back and help other kids that are going through tough things?’ He and his mother, Krista Hughes, started a toy drive that amassed thousands of toys for other kids going through treatment.
During the pandemic, patients are not allowed to share toys, so they go home with the children. Supplies were low and this is typically a slow time for toy donations. “They’d offer anything to make us just feel as at home as possible,” Tripp said. “So, we just wanted them to also feel the way that they made us feel.” Tripp and his mom started the toy drive and it just kept growing. They collected 4,400 toys packed into more than 100 boxes. “We just wanted to make sure that we got everything the hospital needed to be able to give back what they gave us,” Krista Hughes said.
Young Tripp was four years old when he was diagnosed with pre B-cell near-haploid acute lymphoblastic lymphoma. Tripp’s mother said the family was determined to face the challenge head-on and with positivity. She said the first 8 months were the most challenging but they had physical and emotional help from the hospital staff. “His team is just amazing. We’re so happy to have Children’s Mercy here,” she said. “Every single person you come into contact with helps the process feel ok.”
Krista said “He’s really impressed all of his doctors. His energy was always sky high, positive mood, never really let it affect him for the age that he is. He was always very mature for everything he was going through.” Tripp said “It’s just been a rollercoaster, every single pill I’ve been taking, every single day for two-and-a-half years.”
He wanted to celebrate his last treatment by thanking everyone at Children’s Mercy. His Toy Drive began as a few posts on social media, then it grew to involve benefit concerts and viral TikTok videos. “This has just exceeded our expectations. We had no idea it was going to get this big,” Krista Hughes said. Together, they donated a U-Haul packed with toys, blankets and other supplies to the hospital for other kids still in treatment.
Children’s Mercy staff said their supplies are running extra low. Summers are slow for donations and almost every toy is single use now because of COVID-19 safety precautions. They say Tripp’s gift couldn’t have come at a better time. Gregg Rosenboom, In-kind Giving Coordinator for Children’s Mercy described the donation as Christmas in July at the hospital. He said “He just went through a really tough time in his life and his thought was, ‘how can I give back and help other kids going through tough things?’ That’s awesome.”