FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Abby Grubbs pulls a Radio Flyer wagon down the halls of Lutheran Children’s Hospital’s outpatient oncology department. She’s loaded down with LEGOs, but she’s also delivering hope.
“I know what it’s like being in the hospital with nothing to do and Team JOEY gave me LEGOs, so I wanted to give them,” the ten-year-old said.
Abby just finished two and a half years of treatments for Leukemia. She still has monthly check-ups, but her chemotherapy is finished. Now, she’s giving other patients encouragement to keep fighting.
“I know it’s tough, but you’re going to make it and it’s okay if it hurts because the hurt will go away,” she said.
A few months ago, Abby told her mom that for her birthday this year, she wanted to give presents to other kids in the hospital.
“How could I not respond to that with, ‘Okay. We’re going to do it,'” Sherry Grubbs, Abby’s mom, said.
Sherry contacted Heroes Foundation, which runs Team JOEY, a program that gives LEGOs to children fighting cancer across the state. Abby then had a “pay-it-forward” birthday/end-of-treatment party. She asked her guests to bring a LEGO item for her to give away.
“It’s amazing to have someone that age be so giving and so thoughtful and want to give back,” Kelly Canada, a Heroes Foundation board member, said.
Friday, Abby delivered some of the LEGOs she collected to the kids at Lutheran Hospital. The Flounder character from the Wagon Wheel’s stage production of “The Little Mermaid” joined her and Kelly dressed up as Ariel. She’s also a cancer survivor herself.
“We’ve found characters or celebrities are a big hit with the children,” Kelly said. “A lot of people have been touched by [cancer]. Once you have gone through that, you want to find a way to give back and this is a great way to do that.”
For the kids, the LEGO gifts are much more than toys.
“It’s a coping mechanism. It’s encouragement. It’s letting them know they’re not forgotten and it gets them through each day in an amazing way,” Sherry said.
Abby still remembers getting LEGOs in the hospital and she still loves collecting them.
“It gave you another thing to do and LEGOs are super duper fun,” she said.