Helping stock the Banner Children’s Toy Closets
100% of donations will purchase toys
kids of all ages—including baby toys,
books, games, puzzles, dolls, race cars,
and even gift cards for teenage patients.
The holidays typically bring much-needed toy donations, enough to stock the Toy Closets at all three Banner Children’s medical centers in Mesa, Glendale and Tucson for the full year. After a challenging procedure, treatment, or when achieving a milestone, children get a trip to the Toy Closet to choose their own toy to keep—offering them a bright spot while they’re in the hospital. This year, instead of bringing toys to the hospital in person, donors are asked to make a secure, tax-deductible donation to the Virtual Toy Drive online. 100% of donations will purchase toys for kids of all ages—including baby toys, books, games, puzzles, dolls, race cars, and even gift cards for teenage patients.
Your gifts will help Arizona children bravely battling illnesses like Elianna, Ian, Alex, McKinley, Savannah, and Rilynn. Read more about their inspiring stories below:
Two-year-old Elianna went from a joyful, curious toddler to battling kidney cancer. Diagnosed as a Wilms tumor, the large mass that was in her stomach is the most common type of kidney cancer in children. Six weeks of chemotherapy was followed by surgery. An aggressive tumor, which had metastasized to Elianna’s lung, required four more inpatient stays, with five consecutive days of chemotherapy each time. In June 2021, Elianna’s family received incredible news: No sign of disease in her lungs and kidneys. Elianna’s journey from cancer to recovery was made gentler and kinder by her health care and Child Life teams at Diamond Children’s Medical Center. “The staff was just amazing,” Elianna’s mother Vanessa recalls, adding that the nurses walked them through every step of the process and Child Life specialists were always by Elianna’s side – playing games to calm and distract her, while preparing Elianna for upcoming treatments and procedures.
At just 2 years old, healthy and happy Ian was diagnosed with leukemia and spent nearly three weeks at Diamond Children’s, his mother Martha by his side for most of that time. He responded well to chemotherapy, finishing in October 2020. At first, Ian would cry when going back to the hospital for appointments. But then, he became “best friends,” says Martha, with the Child Life team – and one very special member, Melissa. “They are angels,” she explains. “I don’t know how they do it.” And, there is wonderful news to report: Ian is currently in remission from his leukemia!
A fiery redhead, Alex, 8, is the youngest of three children in his family. At just 18 months old, Alex was diagnosed with Giant Cell Hepatitis and Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, which affect his liver, blood, and lungs. Currently, there are only 27 documented cases of this challenging condition. Alex’s family has searched for the right care in multiple states – eventually finding just what he needs at Diamond Children’s Medical Center in Tucson. “Alex sees so many specialists, and the doctors here are just phenomenal,” says his mother, Mylinda. “Child Life is phenomenal. Everybody is just superior here.”
Dealing with an illness associated with older individuals has not been easy for 11-year-old McKinley. Diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in Spring 2020, McKinley receives infusions through an intravenous (IV) line at Diamond Children’s every other week. IVs have been a struggle for McKinley – and, this is where Child Life steps in to support the young patient. “Melissa, in particular, on the Child Life team has made a huge difference,” says McKinley’s mother, Rebecca. “She helps her stay calm. McKinley has even asked Melissa to hold her hand. McKinley just loves Child Life.”
Since age 3, Savannah has battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia three times. After going through several remissions and relapses, her doctors conveyed to Savannah's mom, Vanessa, that she would need a bone marrow transplant. A novel clinical trial at Diamond Children’s Medical Center saved Savannah in her third cancer battle. A year after their groundbreaking transplant and participation in the clinical study, Savannah is free of disease and in remission. "I felt like we had to be at Banner Children's because they have the most research for children with the best doctors, says Vanessa. “I knew that's where I wanted my child to be taken care and I would never trade it for anything."
12-year-old Rilynn suffered a very serious head injury at age 7 during an ATV accident. After undergoing through the intensive care unit at Banner Children’s at Desert, she is back on her feet again. “Banner Children’s at Desert gave excellent care to our daughter during her stay and at all follow-up visits after her injury,” says Rilynn’s mother, Kassondra. “CPR is a powerful thing and can save lives if initiated early on. I believe everyone (including teenagers) should be trained, as you never know the moment you may need to perform it to save a life.” Rilynn and her family are now advocating for the importance of CPR training for everyone so that more lives can be saved.
To support the Virtual Toy Drive and/or host your own online fundraiser, visit http://give.bannerhealth.com/toy.