Gifts for Riley patients comes out of tragedy

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A tragic loss of one family is helping dozens of others at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

It's amazing how just a toy can lift the spirits of a child who's sick. Thursday's special delivery at Riley, is all thanks to Andi Wilson. Her daughter was saved years ago thanks to Riley Hospital.

"There are children here that are hurting and there's a way to help them," Wilson said.

Andi's desire to help was born out of a tragic situation. Her next door neighbor, James Shiel, was killed in a house fire in Carmel on March 20. His two-year-old son Andrew also died.

"Andy and James were amazing and wonderful and...anything we can do, you know. They are very much missed and our daughter misses them a lot," said Wilson.

So to honor their memory, she is spearheading a project called "Andy's Toy Box" to raise money to purchase gifts for Riley patients and their families.

The donations started pouring in from other neighbors and even strangers. They were able to buy gift cards to various restaurants and stores for the families of sick children. For the patients, six iPads with cases and two large boxes filled with toys to give them joy and possibly forget about their illness, if just for a minute.

"I thought that maybe if this gives them the chance to see their family that maybe can't be at the hospital with them, or their friends, and give them a sense of home while they're there, then that's worth every penny I have," Wilson said.

They now have a lot of gifts from the Cheer Guild.

"The items are actually selected specifically for each child. So the child life specialist or one of the staff will come to one of the cabinets we have and they will pick an item specifically for that child. They may be in need of a pink blanket or a coloring book or whatever," said Riley Hospital volunteer Teresa Ray.

A tragic loss of two souls has turned into a special gift for many children who are trying to live.

As Andi Wilson cries, she says, "That's a lot. It's a lot of sick babies."

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