This toy drive started as a way to promote healing for our family through giving, after losing our precious Aiyana on November 24, 2009. Aiyana was born on March 6, 2001, and from the moment she entered our lives we adored her! When Aiyana was a year old, we found out that she had a massive stroke in utero and more than half of the left hemisphere of her brain never developed leading to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. The doctors didn’t give much hope for a full future for her. They ran down the long list of all of the things she wouldn’t be able to do or restrictions she’d have because of her “disability”.
As a family, we gave it to God and always told Aiyana she could do anything. At times this was scary and we found ourselves wanting to limit what she was doing, for the fear of her getting hurt. Aiyana’s spirit just wouldn’t allow for that and she would keep trying until she made it happen! She was an inspiration to all of us with her ability to push through, while still smiling and laughing. On October 26th, 2009 when Aiyana was 8 years old she was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. We were devastated. At that point, we knew we had to put it in God’s hands again and by Aiyana’s side, we would all fight! Aiyana’s strength was what kept us going when we wanted to break down. Here was this beautiful little girl taking on treatment, with the same spirit she had while facing many obstacles in her life before. Aiyana was handling everything like a “rockstar” and her body was responding very well to her treatments, so we got the great news she’d be home by Thanksgiving that year! That was months sooner than what the doctors initially had told us! It was during the excitement and preparation to bring her home that Aiyana developed a respiratory infection. Due to complications from the infection, we lost our Aiyana a week later on November 24th, 2009, just 2 days before Thanksgiving.
The toys that Aiyana received took her away from the hospital. In those moments she wasn’t a sick little girl fighting cancer, she was just a little girl imagining, playing, and laughing. Aiyana touched every person she ever came in contact with, in a way that only God’s special ones can. She taught us how to persevere through life’s obstacles, how to have compassion for the beings around us, and to love, laugh, and dance every day. God gave her to our family if only for 8 years, they were spectacular. We dare to be remarkable like Aiyana and have been blessed with the ability to give a smile as well as time to just be a kid, to the children in these hospitals.
Healing through giving has been the best medicine for our family. Thank you for your continued support every year! We know Aiyana is dancing and laughing from heaven any time a toy given. We love you Aiyana forever and always.