Christmas giving project makes former patient feel 'nice'

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4 2013 6:40 p.m. MST

Lindsey was given careful instructions from Tanner to give out the toys before Christmas comes so kids aren't left without.

It's important, she said, for young patients to have things that help them cope with their often complex environment.

"Children aren't usually confined to a small space like this. They're not used to it," Lindsey said, adding that "playtime" gives them an opportunity to grow and learn, just as normal kids would.

"Just because you're hospitalized doesn't mean you're not a kid," she said.

The surrounding community is quite generous, offering lots of donations throughout the year, Lindsey said. Because Tanner was a former patient and "knows firsthand what it feels like to stay here," his contribution is "a special scenario," she said.

"It's nice to see our patients in a more healthy light," said Lindsey, who counseled Tanner during his hospitalizations.

The young boy — now with a full head of red hair and a smile that can light up a room — still takes countless medications and heads to the hospital at least every two weeks for blood work and physical exams.

He hopes to join his peers at the end of fourth grade, but it's more likely that he'll miss out on the school year altogether, Nielsen said. The two play games at home to learn various skills, and Tanner often works on his handwriting and math lessons using his tablet computer.

But Tanner's Christmas "giving project" likely taught him a lesson no textbook or classroom could.

"It feels nice," he said.

Email: wleonard@deseretnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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