This is the story of our son and how we started Zach's Toy Chest.
Our family started this organization after our oldest son, Zachary, went through cancer in 2008. Zach had a form of childhood cancer called Neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is a solid tumor cancer that begins in the nerve tissue of the neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis but usually originates in the abdomen in the tissue of the adrenal gland. It usually affects children under 5 years old. We were very fortunate to catch Zach’s during a sick visit to his pediatrician. He had not had any symptoms of pain, but merely the sniffles.
Zachary was just shy of 10 months old when we were given this devastating news. He went through a very hard surgery on March 4, 2008 to try and remove his tumor – but the surgeons could not remove it because of its size and location. Zachary had chemotherapy at the outpatient center, the Valvano Day Hospital. This is where I started noticing the clinic didn’t have anything for kids to do during treatment and the idea of Zach’s Toy Chest was planted.
Zachary underwent his second surgery on June 26, 2008 – one month after finishing chemo. He had a much faster recovery time after the majority of his tumor was removed.
He continued to do well and on September 18, 2008 he had his final surgery to remove his central line. We were over the moon.
This foundation was originally created to provide the children receiving cancer treatments something to pass the time with and make their day a little brighter. Our mission has been to help them focus on fun and play – not cancer, not the hospital. Cancer takes so much from us and the kids that they need this…and it helps the adults too. Over the last few years, ZTC has grown tremendously and we are now able to supply both in and out patient areas of both Duke and UNC Children’s Hospitals. We are currently working to get to this point at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital in Greenville, NC as well. This is an important milestone for us because it means that all kids at the hospitals will receive something as their reward for being courageous as they face adversity.
Thanks to continued support from everyone we will continue to grow and keep making kids smile one toy at a time!
Holly Schwab – Zach’s Mom
Zach’s Toy Chest is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed to help pediatric patients by providing new, unwrapped toys at hospitals.
Zach’s Toy Chest donates toys, games, books and other items that help boost the spirits of patients of all ages.
Every day, a deck of cards, a doll or a stuffed animal puts a smile on the face of a child who hasn’t smiled in quite some time. Zach’s Toy Chest donates toys, games, books and other items that help boost the spirits of patients of all ages. A well-stocked toy chest ensures that every patient has a gift for holidays, birthdays and most importantly, a little something to serve as a reward for their courage in fighting cancer and other critical illnesses.
Playing is essential when a child is undergoing difficult treatment or procedures due to cancer and other critical illnesses. Providing a new game or toy and watching a smile light up a child’s face is a special moment for families, staff and volunteers.