Family carries out Edwardsville teen's wish for a Christmas toy - KMOV.com

Family carries out Edwardsville teen's wish for a Christmas toy drive

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Whitley's family holds a Christmas toy drive for recovering children at Cardinal Glennon. (Credit KMOV) Whitley's family holds a Christmas toy drive for recovering children at Cardinal Glennon. (Credit KMOV)
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) -

Back in 2014, 12-year-old Whitley, from Edwardsville, was experiencing symptoms of dizziness, double vision, and instability, which she quickly learned was being caused by a growth on her brain stem.

"It's a type of cancer called Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma," said Christy Jennings, Whitley's mother. "We were told immediately there was no cure, it was inoperable and she would die from it."

Whitley went from a smart, active girl, to be being confined to a wheelchair and unable to talk within a few months. The cancer took so much from her, but it did not take away her kindness and empathy.

"She looked around the hospital and she saw all these other children that were much sicker than she was and she wanted to bring them a little joy," said Jennings, "That's how Whitley was, she was always a giver."

She wanted to start a toy drive for the children who were at the same hospital as her receiving treatments, Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis. However, by Christmas 2014, it was a quick decline for Whitley and she became too weak to actually put on the toy drive, 

"And on March 30, 2015, I lost her," said Jennings.

There have now been two Christmases of grieving, but this year, Jennings is ready to fulfill her daughter's wish. She set up a Facebook Page called "Whitley's Wishes." Through this, you can stay connected about the toy drive. You can either drop off toys in-person at Eakert's Family Barbershop in Edwardsville, or you can purchase toys online through Discovery Toys, which will be shipped to Jennings, who will deliver the toys. All toys will go directly to the children who are at Cardinal Glennon Hospital this Christmas. 

Jennings hopes to make this toy drive a tradition.

"The fact that she created it herself means so much, ya know? It's something I think I'd like to continue," said Jennings. 

You can give to Whitley's Wishes toy drive through Christmas Day this year. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the toys purchased through Discovery Toys will go back to "Whitley's Wishes" to be used for brain cancer research.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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