PAXTON, Ill. (WCIA) — “Bringing smiles to people’s faces when they don’t have a whole lot to smile about,” Tim Cahill, Central Illinois Pink Heals, said.
That’s the goal of one organization in Central Illinois and a group of high school students joined them, just in time for the holidays. A small community is coming together to put a smile on the face of a little girl with cancer, but they’re not done yet.
They’re collecting toys for her Christmas. After meeting this little girl, the group knew they wanted to do more.
A 6-year-old girl in Paxton had the surprise of a lifetime, with a visit from a pink fire truck and a big group of high schoolers.
“We go to these visits and there’s times where you know these people aren’t going to be making it very long and to be able to make them and their family smile and have that lasting memory is just absolutely amazing,” Tim Cahill said.
The truck belongs to Central Illinois Pink Heals. It’s a volunteer group that likes to bring joy to people in tough situations, like Addy Grande, who is fighting liver cancer.
“She had a lot of fun talking to the guys,” Jackie Grande, Addy’s mom, said. “The boys are very nice. She got to meet Santa, ride in a fire truck. It was a really awesome experience.”
Grande’s family just moved to Paxton this summer. She was diagnosed with cancer soon after.
“I don’t think I would’ve been able to go through half of what she did and still have a smile on her face the way that she does,” Jackie Grande said.
Word spread about pink heals visiting Grande among a group of high school boys. They knew they had to be there.
“It definitely changed me a little bit,” Evan Cahill, high school student, said. “It was kind of nice to see, put a smile on someone’s face especially someone that young and sick.”
“Its unbelievable to get a group of high schoolers out on a Saturday morning when we all know they got a bunch of stuff they want to do and them to show up and make her day was amazing,” Tim Cahill said.
Grande is currently in the hospital, while she’s there. People are planning something huge for her return.
“We all decided that she deserves some toys because she’s been through so much and its the least we could do for her to make her happy for Christmas,” Kayden Snelling, high school student, said.
The high school boys who met Grande decided to host a toy drive at their school. During their basketball game on December 14th at 7:00 p.m., they are encouraging people to bring toys for Grande. She and her family can’t believe the kindness they have been receiving.
“People I don’t even know have sent letters to Addy,” Jackie Grande said. “It just warms my heart because all of these people have banded together. They say it takes a village, and well, in this case a community.”
Addy will be having treatment during the toy drive December 14th, but Grande said Addy is excited to share some of the toys she receives with other kids as well. Her mom also said more organizations in Central Illinois have reached out about Addy, wanting to spread even more joy for the 6-year-old.
Pink Heals is 100% volunteer and all donations stay in Central Illinois. The group was running out of money and almost had to stop doing their visits, but they say Hudson’s Drug and Hallmark donated $20,000 to keep things going.
If you want to help or want more information, here is the link below.
The Toy Drive is happening Tuesday, December 14th at 7:00 p.m. at Paxton Buckley Loda High School.