A boy from Pennsylvania used his birthday to collect thousands of toys, but the trinkets weren’t for him — they were instead for the other pediatric patients at the hospital that treated him for cancer.
When it came time for 5-year-old Weston Newswanger to decide what he wanted for his birthday in September, he had a simple response: “I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything,” Weston’s mother, Amy Newswanger, recalled to CNN of her son’s answer.
After hearing his decision, Newswanger suggested that the family make a donation in lieu of his birthday gifts. That’s when Weston came up with the idea of donating toys to Penn State Children’s Hospital — the same hospital where he began treatment for cancer three years ago.
The family worked for weeks to collect donations by contacting relatives and friends, and by reaching out to their network of contacts over social media, CNN reported.
It didn’t take long for the toys to come flooding in.
“We got 1,263 containers of Play-Doh… 71 superheroes… and then 1,249 dinosaurs,” Newswanger told CNN. “And a bunch of miscellaneous items we didn’t even add up.”
On Tuesday, Weston helped to deliver the large collection of toys to the hospital’s Child Life program, which provides toys to children receiving care at the facility, according to WHP.
This was Weston’s special way of giving back. In November 2016, Weston was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer the develops in soft tissue and has a high risk of spreading to other areas of the body, according to Mayo Clinic.
Weston underwent nearly a year of treatment at Penn State Children’s Hospital, and has remained in remission for nearly two years, CNN reported.
During their time there, Newswanger said toys like Play-Doh helped to keep a smile on Weston’s face. Naturally, giving back to the hospital and helping other young patients seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Weston’s birthday, and two years of being in remission.
“We were there just as much if not more than our own house,” she told the outlet. “The people at the hospital became our family.”