Thanks to the legacy of a young boy, Mark Staehely, a Lurie Children’s holiday tradition just celebrated its 14th annual year of giving and spreading holiday cheer to our patients and families.
In 2000, Mark was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that develops from nerve tissue. He spent several years battling the aggressive disease, and despite all he endured, Mark never gave up hope or caring for others.
Having spent many holidays in the hospital, including Christmas, Mark put his positive attitude and spirit of giving into action. His mission: To bring joy to other children coping with cancer during the holiday season. In 2001, he enlisted the help of family and friends to collect toys for the kids at the hospital (then Children’s Memorial) – beginning an annual tradition.
In 2005, Mark was honored for his contributions by the hospital’s Board of Directors with their highest award, the George D. Kennedy Leadership Award.
Sadly, Mark passed away in 2006, but his mom, Sue Staehley, and her elves (family and friends) ensure that his legacy continues each year with the Mark Staehely Toy Drive. This year marks the 14th annual toy drive. What started as 150 toys in 2001 has grown to now over 40, 000 toys collected each year for the patients at Lurie Children’s.
“We are just so proud to keep the promise and Mark’s dream alive,” says Barb Thompson, an Elf at the annual toy drive and Vice President of the Make Your Mark Foundation Board of Directors.
If you’d like to give the gift of hope to our patients celebrating this holiday season in the hospital, please visit www.luriechildrens.org/hopelist.