Two children who know what it's like to be spending the holidays fighting tough diseases in the hospital worked together to spread a little cheer to other kids - and their efforts were a huge success.
Raegan Weber, 9, and Caleb Wolf, 12, had a noble goal. They wanted to provide toys and Christmas presents for kids who had to spend the holiday at Children's Mercy Hospital.
To fully appreciate what Caleb and Raegan are now doing for other kids, it needs to be understood what they've been through. Raegan spent last Christmas at Children's Mercy, and so did Caleb.
"I was like, I got off the bus and ran, and I said, ‘Mom, my head hurts so bad,'" Raegan said.
Exactly one year ago, Raegan suddenly experienced an excruciating headache. Just hours after telling her mom, a doctor delivered stunning news.
"My mom would be like, ‘What's the matter?' and he said, ‘She has a brain tumor,' and my mom just started crying," Raegan said.
Caleb was born with a brain malformation and has fought cerebral spinal fluid issues for years.
"I've almost been in here for a year - had over 100 surgeries, maybe, give or take a few. About 40 shunts, it's like a little tube that's in your head and it drains body fluid," he said.
Before her surgery last December, Raegan received a gift. It was a soft blanket and a note from someone she'd never met.
"The note said, ‘I was here, too, and I remember being scared, and I hope this blanket gives you comfort. Know that someone cares about you, and know that everything will be OK,'" Stephanie Weber, Raegan's mother, said.
Caleb has also spent many holidays in the hospital.
"I always had a wonderful time here (at the hospital) during the holidays - Christmas, Easter, my birthdays - because everybody cared," he said.
As it turns out, doctors successfully removed Raegan's brain tumor and, a year later, she is doing great.
Caleb is now playing tackle football. It would be hard for anyone who didn't know him to guess he's had dozens and dozens of surgeries.
"It felt like they actually cared about me," Raegan said.
Inspired by the gift Raegan received in the hospital, the two teamed up, with the help of their parents, to pay it forward to other kids who are just like them, while paying tribute to a little girl who Caleb befriended in the hospital. Marley Moore's death due to brain cancer last year taught Caleb at an early age that not everyone who gets sick gets better.
"I just want to give back to the people who have it worse, like people who are in the hospital for Christmas. I just want them to have a good Christmas no matter what," Caleb said.
With those intentions, they started a toy drive in their respective hometowns. Raegan lives in Lawson, MO, while Caleb lives in neighboring Kearney.
Their hope was to fill the hospital's playroom, called Henson's Room, for young patients. The two have named their fundraising team Henson's Heroes.
"I was in this room. This was the room where I would have fun and play with kids. I felt like I was in control here, and no one could do anything to hurt me," Reagan said.
And their toy drive was a whopping success. They collected so many toys, it took a bus to deliver them all to Children's Mercy Hospital.
Raegan's mom said, as a parent, she couldn't be prouder.
"Whether it be a brain malformation, or a brain tumor - whatever it is that you've been given to deal with - no matter what the outcome is, there has to be a reason why it happened. So if I can make it a positive outcome and we can use it to make someone else's life a little easier (we'll do that)," Weber said.
Children's Mercy said this was one of the largest toy donations they have received.
Click here to read more about Marley and her battle with brain cancer.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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