By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Beckett Culp celebrated his 4th birthday last week, but he was the one delivering gifts this week at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
The little boy with the big, joyful personality underwent a liver transplant in June and couldn’t wait to say thanks by paying it forward to the next family whose child spends long days and weeks in the hospital.
With help from his parents, Klark and Lauren Culp, Beckett unloaded boxes and bags outside Riley filled with his favorite toys – Hot Wheels – along with Legos, baby dolls, bubble blowers, infant toys and a push car.
All are headed to the Riley Cheer Guild’s toy room, where they will eventually be handed out to hospital patients, particularly on units where Beckett spent time – 9E and 9W, PICU and the transplant playroom.
“I always say it’s like Christmas when we leave the hospital because he gets so many toys while we’re here,” Beckett’s mom said. “So I thought we should do something to give back.”
She went on the Riley Cheer Guild website to see its wish list, then created her own Amazon wish list, adding in some of Beckett’s favorites. She posted the toy drive information on social media, and family and friends stepped up to help.
“We got so much stuff. Every time a box would come to the house, he would be so excited,” Lauren said.
Beckett was diagnosed at 6 months old with a rare genetic disorder that compromised his liver. At the time, his dad was deployed to the Middle East with the U.S. Air Force. It was a rough time for the entire family, which also includes two older children.
To look at him now, though, you would have no idea how sick he was. He is busy, friendly and funny.
“A spitfire” is how his mom describes him.
“He is not shy at all,” his dad said. “When he comes to Riley, he cracks all the nurses up.”
That includes one of his favorite nurses, Angie Parsley on 9E.
“Beckett is such a fun little boy,” she said. “He is so hilarious; you never know what is going to come out of his mouth. From the first time I met him, I told him we were going to be best friends and that holds true today.”
No doubt, the chocolate ice cream she gave him with his medicine, plus the toys she found for him helped seal the relationship. Beckett “gives the best hugs” and always brings a smile to her face when he comes to Riley, she said. “He is one special little boy.”
It wasn’t surprising when she heard about the toy donation the family made, Parsley said, because they know firsthand how kids at Riley look forward to the toys.
Nurses and child life specialists appreciate the donations as well.
“There is just something about giving a sick kiddo a toy and making them smile or feel comfortable that makes your day,” Parsley said.
Maddie Rodriguez, child life specialist on 9W, sure felt the love Tuesday when she came out to see Beckett and his parents as they dropped off the toys.
Beckett jumped into her arms, and the two laughed and talked about ice cream, school and toys, of course.
“Some of our transplant kids are on the unit for over 200 days, so just seeing these kids come back and celebrating them as they give back to other kids is really amazing,” Rodriguez said.
“Beckett is so sweet. He’s known on our floor for being happy all the time.”
That good cheer can’t help but rub off on those around him.
“I hope Beckett knows how much donating these toys to Riley means to everyone,” Parsley said.
“And I hope he knows that his sweet, spunky little self sure makes nurse Angie feel blessed and honored to know such an amazing little guy.”
Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, email@example.com