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, at Duke Children’s Hospital in North Carolina. 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 with Zach’s health improving and no signs of active cancer cells.
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 Duke, UNC, WakeMed and Maynard Children’s Hospitals on a year-round basis. 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. We will ALWAYS prioritize childhood cancer kids first to stay true to our roots but are so excited we get to help all kids be kids thanks to the support we are getting. To achieve this the hospitals ensure the pediatric oncology areas are always stocked with new toys – then all additional areas are supplied with toys.
ZTC is the only organization in North Carolina that supplies new toys to the hospitals all year long. We are not seasonal since kids aren’t just sick at the holidays. Thanks to the continued support from everyone we will continue to grow and keep bringing joy 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 new toys and more to boost the spirits of patients ages 0-18.
Bringing hope to pediatric patients during medical emergencies by providing new, life changing toys.
To provide an environment of healing that inspires an overall higher quality of cancer care.