RICHMOND, Va. -- A Chesterfield mom is helping keep her son’s memory alive by organizing a toy drive for children receiving care at St. Mary’s Hospital.
Donna Reynolds's nine-year-old son, Kellan, lost his battle with a rare Mitochondrial disease on July 2 of 2020. The condition is so rare fewer than 20,000 cases are diagnosed in the U.S. every year.
"It took us five years for a diagnosis," said Reynolds.
Despite being in and out of the hospital for years, his mom said Kellan was full of life. He loved car rides, his iPad and Mr. Potato Head.
“Everyone that ever met him fell in love with him," Reynolds explained.
During his numerous hospital stays, there was one thing she said cheered him up — new toys.
"Getting a toy in the hospital for a kid, it cures the boredom," she noted. "It distracts them from whatever else is going on."
Reynolds still has the first toy Kellan was gifted in the hospital: a stuffed animal he received when he was just eight weeks old.
After Kellan passed away, life was tough for Reynolds.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever gone through," she tearfully explained. "One day you can be fine, the next day you are in total tears."
But she's turning her pain into action.
Last December, she organized a toy drive for kids at St. Mary's in Kellan’s memory and gathered almost 600 toys. This year, she’s hoping to collect even more.
"It gives me joy doing it," she said. "In a way, it keeps his memory alive.”
While he can’t be here to hand them out, she hopes families know her son’s story, and that they are not alone.
"It's not always easy, but know that someone does care," said Reynolds. “I think he would be proud of me.”
Kellan would have turned 11 years old on Jan. 28.
Reynolds is collecting toys through Feb. 6. Then, they will be donated to the Child Life team at St. Mary’s to distribute in honor of Kellan's birthday.
You can find more information on this Facebook page.