Our story is one of Hope and Joy.
In December 2003 Ryan's dad Ron was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma. In the following months his dad started aggressive treatments at the City of Hope Cancer Hospital. It was during those trips to the hospital with his dad that Ryan first encountered the pediatric patients battling cancer. The truth is that while many of these kids will win their battle with cancer, some will not, and for those kids this Christmas might be their last. It was with that realization that Ryan was inspired to make it the best Christmas he possibly could for the children of City of Hope.
In 2004 Ryan used the little money he had in savings to buy gifts for each child at the hospital and delivered them on Christmas morning with his dad. It was such an amazing experience that Ryan and Ron agreed they would return the next year to do it again.
In 2005 Ron passed away Christmas morning before the toys could be delivered. Ryan knew that he still needed to take the gifts, so he asked his mom if she would join him in delivering the toys. It was that day that he saw the Hope and Joy in the faces of the children and their parents when they received the gifts. For a moment the children forgot they were sick; For a moment the parents were happy. It was then that Ryan knew this had to continue, and it had to get bigger and better!
In 2006 Ryan reached out to his church and a local school for help and "Wish Upon a Toy" was born! The response was overwhelming and the "Wish Upon a Toy" was a tremendous success! Each year since then we have continued to grow to include drop off locations at local churches, restaurants, U.S. banks, Targets, and Carmax locations, plus an online donation campaign raising thousands of dollars throughout the years.
In 2009 "Wish Upon a Toy" expanded to a 2 day event. Still true to our roots we celebrate Christmas morning with the pediatric patients but now we have a separate event for the adult patients 1 week before Christmas. Many Adult patients are facing mounds of medical bills or are too sick to leave the hospital to go shopping for their loved ones, so unfortunately Christmas gifts are sometimes not an option. That's where we come in! Now adult patients have the opportunity to go shopping for their loved ones for free! Patients get to go through our pop up shop and select any gift they want for everyone on their list. Once they are done "shopping" a team of volunteers (some of whom are ex-patients themselves) wrap their presents for a great personalized touch!
In the Spring of 2015 we visited a very special child at the "Children's Hospital of Los Angeles". That visit marked the first time "Wish Upon a Toy" expanded past the Christmas season and outside of the "City of Hope". While "Wish Upon a Toy" and the "City of Hope" will always have a great partnership, we also know that there are plenty of children out there that need our help! It is that knowledge that inspires us to do more, and drives us with the limitless possibilities of giving to children and families in need throughout the year!