Spirit of Christmas reveals itself to Riley family whose gifts were stolen

Patient Stories |


​The community comes together to save the holiday for a family who recently moved to the Indianapolis area to be closer to Riley.​

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Christy and Jamie Brueche recently moved to the Indianapolis area to get better medical care for their young son. When thieves broke into a storage unit and robbed them of their Christmas presents and their hopes for a better future, a community of angels restored what they had lost and more.

The couple’s youngest son, Cody, 4, was born with several birth defects, including a chromosome disorder, chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease and epilepsy. He has been a patient at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health for two years. The family, which also includes older brother Ty, left their lives behind in southern Indiana to move to Brownsburg so Cody could be closer to Riley.

“Cody is our learn-as-we-go kiddo,” said his mom. “When I go to Riley, I just hand them this laundry list of diagnoses and medications – they call it Mom’s Bible of Cody. It’s all right there.”

Their little guy has had countless surgeries and cannot eat, talk or walk, but he lights up their lives.

“He is a happy kid,” Christy said. “He’s always smiling and even though we can’t hear him laugh all the time, he’s got a deep belly laugh. He’s a one-of-a-kind little dude.”

He wouldn’t have been smiling if he knew what had happened Monday, Dec. 9. That’s when Christy and Jamie went to check on the storage unit near their home where they had stashed Christmas gifts and found the usually locked gate wide open. The sinking feeling they had was justified. Their unit had been cleared of the gifts they had bought for their boys, including remote-control cars, an X-box and a Hoverboard.

Christy put out a message on a local community page to warn people that the storage unit had been hit, and before midnight that same day, several people had reached out to offer help.

The storage business owner reimbursed them for their losses, but people still wanted to help. Ty’s wrestling coach collected extra money for the family, and the Brownsburg Police Department offered to get gifts for the boys. Christy and Jamie were floored by the response, but told others who inquired that the community had already stepped up big.

“We told them we got our Christmas back,” Christy said. “It means a lot, especially just moving here and knowing very few people, that this community has reached out like they have. We made a good decision to move here.”

Jamie said if the family accepted everything the town had offered since the theft happened, he would have to rent five more houses to hold it.

The spirit of Christmas indeed.

As a way to pay it forward, Ty and his mom planned to go by the Brownsburg Police Department over the weekend to help wrap presents for other families that the officers were assisting.

And now they can once again focus on Cody and the care he needs.

“I hate change, but when we transferred to Riley and I got up here and walked around, the atmosphere made me feel so much more comfortable,” Christy said. “It felt more like home. I can breathe, I don’t have to be on guard. They think of the families and parents as well as the patients.”

Learn more about Cody on his Facebook page, Caring for Cody.