CLEVELAND (WJW)-- The family of Richie White knows what it's like to be in the hospital during the holidays. Richie was just 4 years old when he died of a brain tumor in 1991.
“We were in the hospital for two and a half years. He had 13 surgeries. Chemotherapy, radiation, cranial surgery. It was rough,” said Linda White, Richie’s mother.
Ever since, through the Richie White Pediatric Family Fund, the family has provided gifts to kids battling cancer.
“I wanted to keep his memory alive, and I wanted to make other kids smile, because we know what it was like being up here all that time,” White said.
Monday, Santa surprised nearly 100 Cleveland Clinic Children's patients and their siblings with the gifts of their choice, bringing smiles to the faces of kids like 6-year-old Nyla Pierce.
“This is very special to us because it's not often that we get to just feel like normal, and this treats us normally. We don't have to worry about a being in the hospital, we don't have to worry about medications,” said Lissette Colon, Nyla’s mother.
Nyla is in remission from leukemia.
“Last year, we were one of the ones in the hospital for this holiday, so this means a lot this year that she's home and feeling better,” Colon said.
For Richie's family, it's simply about bringing a moment of happiness to patients and their families during the holidays.
“What we wanted to do was just give back to the parents and we can't cure cancer, but we can make a parent and a child smile for a day,” White said.
White said the Richie White Fund raised about $21,000 to buy this year's gifts. More information about the fund and how to donate is available at Give.ccf.org/richiewhitefund