MIAMI (CBSMiami) – During the holiday season it seems nothing brings a smile to a child’s face faster than gifts from some of Santa’s helpers.
“We are so excited to bring some happiness to their faces,” said Andres Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, 22, and his family did that one gift at a time to children being treated at Alex’s Place, the Pediatric Oncology and Hematology clinic at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Rodriguez, who was diagnosed in August with testicular cancer, is now in remission. He said he organized a toy drive and gave the presents to the kids at the center as a small way of giving back.
“You know these kids deal with so much pain and so much suffering and their parents are dealing with their worst nightmares,” said Rodriguez. “It’s really important for them to understand they are not alone and this is not their battle, but our battle.”
“It was quite a shock to have my son diagnosed with cancer, I would’ve never thought it,” said Rodriguez’s mother Thais. “But he turned it around and said ‘Mom I have to do something for people in this position’.”
“He decided to give back to kids going through the same thing,” said Rodriguez girlfriend Michelle West. “By God’s grace he raised a lot of money and toys.”
Rodriguez said when he set up the toy drive his goal was to collect five hundred toys. In the end, he collected more than 1,100 toys including board games, tea sets and lots of stuffed animals.
Both the kids and their parents at the center truly appreciated Rodriguez’s gesture.
“It makes them feel good and forget about their sickness,” said parent Jessica Denman who added that her son’s illness had taken a toll on her family. “It’s extremely hard. I haven’t been able to work or even have a Christmas for him so this helps out a lot.”
“I appreciate the gesture being done where they are giving toys to these kids with these types of conditions and also for their siblings, so it means a lot to me and a lot to the children as well,” said parent Linda Oriental.